Builders, Heroes, Primal Gods – The Giants in the Germanic and Norse Traditions

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written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

In Germanic and Norse cosmology not Gods came first but Giants. Out of them the multiverse was made, they are at the core essence of everything existent; the primal forces of nature, that – despite being bound to the law and order of the world tree – remain raw and in some ways forever untamed, unbound, evolution unleashed.
That most of mankind and most Germanic Pagans view these forces as “hostile” comes as no surprise, how tiny and insignificant are they in comparison, how powerless and envious.
Just as the Gods created the multiverse by murder thus the majority of mankind copies their actions, intruding, invading and destroying nature and the order of it by any means possible. To conquer and rule these ancient forces is their goal.
Yet once nature retaliates and puts mankind in its place, then the cry is waxen great, to speak in biblical terms.
“Enemies of the Gods”, “world destroyers”, “dumb”, “underdeveloped” “evil”, thus have the Giants been reviled.
All because mankind and Gods are not at the core of their concerns and are but a fraction of it, another wheel in the machinery of life, no more – or less – important than an ant.
Of course neither is all of mankind out to uproot the order of nature nor are all Giants the same. So let us take a look at how versatile these beings, these Primal Gods, truly are.

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The murder of Ymir

Etymology

In Old Norse they are called Jotonn, (Swedish Jotun (sg), Jötnar (pl)), the Anglo-Saxons knew them as Eoten and (German) Saxons as Etan or Etin. All of these words are related to the word “to eat” or “hungry” and this is indeed one of the main attributes of the Giants. They are always boundlessly hungry, just like life itself, metaphorically speaking.
Another term for Giant is Thurse, Old Norse þurs (Strength).
The German word “Riese” or Old High German risi or riso, originally wrisi, wriso means the same thing, “strong” or “powerful”. Nowadays the German word “riesig” means “huge”, “gargantuan” though.
The word Hiune (German: Hühne) was first used in Middle High German. It is believed to point to the intermixture between some of the Germanic tribes with the “barbarian Giant-like Huns”, but there is no definitive proof for this assumption.

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Runes

Thurisaz is the rune of the incredible strength of the Thursen-Giants. It is also associated with brutish Thunar, slayer of the Thursen and Jöten.

Uruz is the aurochs rune, the rune of the cosmic (“Allmother”) cow Audhumla. It also represents the power of creation and regeneration. For those that equate Audhumla with the Dark Mother figure (Angerboda etc.) Uruz also plays an important role.

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Kenaz, the “fire rune” is mostly associated with Loki, sometimes with King Surt or the Giants of Muspili in particular.

In modern times further attempts were made to assign runes to particular Gods and Giants.
For example Hagalaz or Isa are sometimes thought to be Hel’s rune(s), however others believe that Isa is solely Angerboda’s rune and Hagalaz in combination with Thurisaz representative of Ragnarök.

Laguz is linked with Ran or Aegir (and I assume would have to be representative of the Undines and all other “water beings” or beings linked to water, which begs the question whether the Idisen to whom many a pond and lake was dedicated are included in this equation.)

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Rökkatrúr believe the Futhorc rune Ac to represent Angerboda, likewise some Rökkatrúr believe that Tiwaz (original chief God Týr’s rune) is a link to the Fenriswolf.

And there are many more examples.
Whatever one may think of reinterpreting and changing a system as ancient and well thought out as the runes everyone must decide for themselves, though.

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The Natures and Responsibilities of the Giants

There are Wind-, Weather-, Water-, Mountain-, Forest-, Frost- and Fire Giants and several more.
What all of them have in common is that they “stand as tall as trees and hills”, are usually even-natured unless provoked and keep to themselves and their own kind most of the time.
Plenty of Giant Gods have been described as especially handsome and proportionate.
They do not appear to fit the prejudice of being monstrous, barbarian dim-witted creatures. –

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The Thurse Thrym is described as combing his horses’ manes and tending to his dogs with special care.
Gerd is so beautiful that she conquered Wanen God Frey’s heart at first sight.
Thjazi’s daughter Skadi is just as lovely, a skilled and disciplined huntress. She even marries into the Asen line.
Loki’s wit is beyond comparison. If not for him the Asen Gods would not have their most valued weapons and treasures.
Mimir is especially wise, his name translates to “The Pondering”.
Fenja and Menja cannot only see all of the worlds’ past but see the future as well.
And Aegir, Loki’s brother, is a generous host; his feasts are infamous and visited by both giants and Gods alike. He keeps the peace with Thunar even after he calls the Lord of the Sea a slave and inferior to the Asen, insulting Aegir’s hospitability.

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Aegir, the “barnteitr”

Whereas certain criteria must be met to be allowed into Wal’s hall, Hel is welcoming to all, no matter how they met their end.
Eggdher is the giant’s watchman, a thorough and meticulous Thurs who is sitting atop a mountain watching for intruders or playing his flute.
Suttung is also known as “Fjalar the Wise”.
Jord/Fjörgyn/Fitjung/Hlödyn is the embodiment of the earth. Is she not all-wise and by being welcoming to all all-loving in her own way?
Wafthrudnir (mighty riddler) is known for his boundless wisdom. The only question he can in fact not answer is what Wotan whispered into Balder’s ear on the latter’s deathbed.
Sunna (sun) and Dag (day) light our days and Mani (moon) and Nott (night) our nights; we have their parents Nör, Mundilfari (world-turner) and Delling to thank for their existence.
Other attributes of the Giant Gods are fjólkunnig and hundvíss (knowledgeable), froþe (smart), ámáttegr (almighty), trolltrygg (faithful as a Giant) meaning faithful till death, something that holds especially true for Sigyn who remained by bound Loki’s side for aeons.

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Statue of Fenja and Menja in Odense/Denmark, ~1967

So where does the idea originate that they are dim-witted, underdeveloped and inferior to the Asen and Wanen Gods?
For once the Giants are often known to be barnteitr, happy as children, a term especially attributed to Aegir.
This term at least implies a certain kind of emotional simplicity; as knowledgeable and intelligent as many of them are, they have no interest in the complications that Gods and humans have created for themselves and the rest of the multiverse, be they of emotional or another nature.
Nature itself is rather “simple”; there are few grey areas. Nature’s laws are black and white, they are impartial to a large degree and do not place the well-being and survival of mankind, which is grandiose enough to deem itself special, first.
A good example for this would be Brünhild’s Helvegr (“ride to Hel” in the Elder Edda) on which she is halted by an unnamed Giantess (most likely Modgud). The Giantess speaks:

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Modgud, the Giantess that initially refuses to let Brünhild pass

“Depart! You shall not pass though
My tall gates of towering stone:
It befits a wife to wind yarn,
Not to know another’s husband.”

It takes Brünhild a while to explain to the Giantess that she was tricked by evil men and that Siegfried is her true husband, that she belongs with him in death as she would have in life. She did not break any oaths (on her own accord), she did not violate the laws of nature hence. Such treachery, betrayal and cunning is apparently completely unknown to the otherwise rather knowledgeable Giantess, who is not unfamiliar with Brünhild and her fate save for the manmade trials and tribulations.
I often hear people say they wished they could live a simpler life, return or reconnect with nature, far away from the rest of society and its complex systems, only then would they be happy.
This is basically the “Giant life”. To return to nature means to absolutely and unquestioningly submit yourself to the primal and unchangeable forces of life.

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In addition to the wise and witty Giants there are indeed those who are not just emotionally but intellectually simpler.
They don’t expect to be cheated and betrayed as they so often are in lore, folk and fairy tales either; they are true to their word, upright and honest and have no ulterior motives hence it is easy to make a fool of them, because they keep repeating their “mistake” of being honest and having no ulterior motives. For a while at least…until they catch on and unleash their terrible (though justified) wrath upon men, the earth and Gods alike.
To call these Giants dumb and insensitive is unjust though. They are the natural urges, the subconscious powers embodied. They, too, play an important role in the cycle of life, even if an uncomfortable one that is harder to comprehend oftentimes.

Their names already speak volumes:

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We have Surt (dark), Syrpa (dirty colored), Lodin (shaggy) and Skinnnefja (fur nosed), Hrimgrimnir (frost-grim); all of who might just fit the common criteria for beauty a little less than the Giants mentioned in the second paragraph.
Jarnhaus (iron head), Hardhaus (hard head) and Skalli (skull) sound like stubborn but possibly also quite steady fellows.
A tad more intimidating sounding names are Hardgreip (hard grip), Wolvesmage (wolf stomach – voracious) Hrungnir (constantly hungry one), Hástígi (fast runner).
Many of these Giants are described as multi-headed creatures with dysmorphic proportions and some are alleged to have multiple extremities.
Scholars assume that these originally non-Germanic Giant beliefs may have been influenced by extended contacts with the Orient.

The unruliness and chaotic raw power of these type of Giants is not only displayed in their names but their features also. It is as though the power within is too large for them, fighting to break free again, misshaped their bodies in the process.
These are the Giants, often Thurses, who are responsible for floods, tornadoes, avalanches, tsunamis and other natural disasters. It includes Surt, King of Muspelheim, who longs to burn the world to the ground with his sword of fire. He sits on his throne biding his time until Ragnarök.

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King Surt

They all are the cleaning agents of nature, dangerous and sometimes deadly. Hostile? In a way, yet only if you consider death the enemy of life rather than a part of the everlasting cycle.
Personally I have no desire to leave this mortal coil just yet, but I would prefer dying in a natural disaster rather than being shot dead by a thug out to get the 20 Euros in my purse. Fact is mankind is much more hostile towards mankind than nature could ever be.
Nature does everything for a reason whereas mankind acts on whims and trends according to their “Zeitgeist” most of the time.

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The Worlds of the Giants plus Utangard and Ginnungagap

The first two worlds were Muspelheim and Nifelheim, realm of ice – Hel’s domain.
On top of these two there is Jötunheim, home to Giants of all tribes. Jötunheim is surrounded by the mountain range Grjótúnagard, where King Thrym and his Thursen folk reside.
Not only are the Giants found in all of the above mentioned realms but also in Midgard (and most likely all other remaining worlds), where they live in boulders, trees, in mountains, in the ocean and deep inside the earth. Again: they are what everything in the multiverse is made of, there is no way of locking them in or out of a world. Their power transcends everything.

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Lastly there is Utgard or Utangard, the “outer limits” of Germanic cosmology, home of King Utgard-Loki and more wild Thursen folk.
To make this very clear, Utgard is traditionally not one of the nine worlds, it is considered an Otherrealm by most Germanic and Norse Pagans.
Thursatrú acknowledges eleven worlds of which Utgard and also Ginnungagap are a part. Ginnungagap is the empty space, the great divide, nothingness, in which everything comes undone and is re-assembled before returning to order; the runes for example.
Whether it is a world but rather a state is debatable though I presume.
The same holds true for Utgard. It is not part of the order of the multiverse, something that becomes evident in the traits of its Giants. They appear not to have any of the trolltryggd in them that are innate in their world tree-cousins and are sly and often deceitful too.
Whilst the Yggdrasilian Giants still carry in them the original (Gnostic or primal divine) spark of a state of being before order, they too were forced into shape.
They are known to be able to shape shift in most (or possibly all) cases, but are still bound to the cycle and its order while residing in the multiverse.
Let it be noted that they willingly remain in it as it is made clear throughout the Eddas and other lore that Yggdrasilians and Utgardians can very well cross over into each other’s realities.

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Utgardians are free of the cycle and its laws in their realm, but are they free in ours? – Skrymir, who has a run-in with Thunar at the outskirts of Midgard, is often equated with Utgard-Loki. While Thunar is traveling to Utgard, a Giant named Skrymir joins him.
We know that Thunar regularly journeys to Jötunheim to slaughter Giants with his hammer Mjölnir. Never has it been mentioned that Mjölnir did not fulfill its purpose.
Yet when Thunar attempts to murder Skrymir in his sleep three nights in a row he fails. Skrymir’s only comments in the mornings are that he wonders whether a tree leaf, acorn or bird refuse accidentally landed on his face at night, as he is noticing a slight itch on it.
The Utgardians appear to possess greater strength (and slyness) even in our realm.
In their own outer limits they can take shape if they want to, as they did when Thunar and Loki fared to visit them, but they don’t appear to remain in one form for long or only take it on in order to trick the Yggdrasilians visiting Utgard.
The “great Thunderer” Thunar was completely powerless against the Utgardian Thursen. His strength and knowledge was no match for the forces of boundless freedom, formlessness and chaos.
This is why I would view both Ginnungagap as well as Utgard as completely separate from the tree, with qualities and goals that run diametrically opposed to ours.
There is no reason for enmity though; different realities can indeed co-exist without (much) interference and especially without warfare after all.

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Utgard-Loki

The Price and Reward of Reintegrating into the Circle

The Eddas, folk tales and later (christianized) German fairy tales are filled with accounts of Giants as great builders, fine constructionists but also brutish simpletons with either rather basic needs or demands beyond human perception.
The story of Blast whose terms of building the walls of Asgard the Gods pretend to agree to, while really plotting to murder him, was already told in https://paganmeltingpot.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/holy-horse-horses-in-the-germanic-and-other-polytheist-traditions/.
Usually these kinds of stories are rather similarly constructed. The Giant agrees to do as he was asked by God or mortal and in return demands the home owner, his virginal daughter or in the case of Blast, the Wanen Goddess Freija as payment.
If we look at this as a metaphor, the meaning could not get much more obvious than this. This is the harsher (sounding) version of three times three.
If you invoke the primal, all-powerful forces of nature you better be prepared to pay the price to keep the balance intact.
Living in accordance with the natural laws, giving yourself to these ancient forces will bring you unimagined knowledge. – But you will lose your metaphorical “virginity”, basically your innocence and ignorance, in the process. There is no turning back. And this is not an easy road to walk.

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Grimm’s fairy tale “Das tapfere Schneiderlein”

The trolltrygga – ever-loyal – Giants never breech their contract in lore. They neither lie nor deceive, yet they are merciless in their demands and in their conduct, that much is true.
In the Grimm’s fairy tale Das tapfere Schneiderlein (The brave Tailor) the tailor has a run-in with a Giant who invites him to compete with him. Whilst the Giant plays fairly, the tailor cheats his vis-á-vis in order to win.
Needless to say the tailor is the “hero” in this story, alas, what moral of the story this is supposed to teach us I am not quite sure, but it remains a popular fairy tale nonetheless.

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In another Grimm’s fairy tale, Von einem jungen Riesen (Of a Young Giant) a human boy the size of a thumb is adopted by a Giant who feeds him of his own breast milk. 7 years later, when the boy is as tall as his stepfather, the Giant takes him to the forest and asks him to uproot a group of trees. The boy completes the task after some struggle.
Dissatisfied, the Giant takes home the boy again and feeds him for another 7 years until he asks him once more to uproot a group of trees. This continues once more until the boy has become a Giant himself. He returns home to his birth parents. Yet they are terrified of his height and strength and send him away.
In the course of the fairy tale it is emphasized that the once human boy is not just a Giant physically but he has become a Giant emotionally as well.
He finds employment on a farm, but instead of asking for food, shelter or money as payment he asks to strike his employer three times.
Interestingly the farmer agrees to this demand because he does not believe the Giant will complete the chores he assigned him on time. A big mistake.
On payday the farmer attempts to talk the Giant out of the agreed three strikes.
Enraged, the Giant hits his employer so hard he is cast out of sight, far beyond the horizon. The Giant then turns to the farmer’s wife and tells her she will have to pay the rest of her husband’s debt. The terrified woman begs for mercy; in vain.

Domino-Effect

In this story we find another universal law. That energy set in motion will have to discharge somewhere. This is the impartial, seemingly “careless” and merciless side of the Giants (or basically nature itself) mentioned earlier.
Likewise, in the Bible it is written that God will haunt and persecute the children and their children’s children of those breaking the covenant. This is the same principle. This is part of a person’s orlog (family fate) or as the Bible calls it, “original sin”.

Of course not all interactions with Giants demand a hard price to pay. There are also those tales of great reward and friendship between humans and Giants in which their strength is praised but also their meekness and goodness of the heart are emphasized.
In those tales Giants literally cry a river when witnessing the death of small forest animals and give them a worthy burial.
They are the protectors of the forests, tending to wounded animals and nursing them back to health, helping pregnant animals deliver their young, or they uproot dead trees and craft from them nice winter homes for rabbits, birds and other small or larger animals.
Some Forest Giants seek shelter on farms during especially stormy, icy winter nights. Come spring they grant the farmers their protection from spring floods and tend to their fields, granting them a good harvest.

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That the forces of nature are always both gentle and cruel, raw and merciful, steady and turbulent is emphasized in the marriage between Aegir and Ran. Aegir interacts friendlily with the Gods and grants good speed to every ship of mortals that he encounters.
His wife Ran (greedy robber) is the exact opposite. The sea witch in the fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” is based on her and like the original she collects unlucky souls and offers unholy contracts.
Ran herself sinks ships and forces sailors to live in her dark, wet, chilly hall. Neither Gods nor men interest her much if they don’t do as she pleases. The sea is both friend and foe to humans and especially seafarers.

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 Animal Giants

The most popular animal Giants are probably the Fenriswolf and Jörmungand, the Midgard Serpent. Fenris’ only crime was to grow swiftly in size and be insanely hungry at all times, gladly devouring everything the Asen Gods presented him with.
A great appetite is not exactly unusual for Giants, yet fearing young Fenris’ great strength and that they might be overthrown, the Asen Gods tricked and bound him.
In the process they betrayed and dismembered one of their own, Týr, who had given his word to Fenris that he would not be harmed.

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Hel, Fenris and Jörmungand

Jörmungand (from Old Norse jormun = Mighty and gandr = staff/wand) is sometimes described as curling around Midgard after he was thrown so carelessly into the sea by the Asen Gods.
Neither is Jörmungand’s sex mentioned nor are there any accounts about it other than a short notion that Thunar will slay the great serpent during Ragnarök and that he is known to go and stir it, poking, prodding and beating at it without much success – and most importantly – without point nor apparent reason.
Jörmungand could easily plague if not annihilate Midgard if it is large enough to curl around it. However, it doesn’t cause much trouble other than stir the sea at times and feed off careless sailors. Only when provoked by Thunar does Jörmungand display its true might.
(Although it might be concluded that – Jörmungand aside – generally minimizing the giant population as Thunar regularly does or “keeping the forces of unbound evolution in check” is a way of ensuring at least some form of stability and keeping the powers in “balance” for now.)

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Jörmungand, the “Mighty Staff”

In order to trick Jörmungand into thinking that it was just another sea serpent gliding through the waters rather than a boat full of mortals, the Vikings’ figurehead was a serpent head.
It is interesting that save for Loki’s only humanoid daughter with Angerboda, Hel, all of his children are bound in some form or another. Jörmungand is basically being “bound” around the countries of this earth and forced to eat its own tail.
Fenrir is bound by magically crafted rope.
Nari and Narfi are not bound but their intestines are used to bind Loki after Balder’s death.
Obviously, the binding of all these above-mentioned Giants was not very conductive to the survival of the Asen in the very end, but maybe they knew this and their story is not the Greek tragedy it appears to be at first sight. If they are the “Gods of consciousness” they will most likely be aware that a multiverse created the way it was would end (or keep repeating itself) in the same way.

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Ironwood

There are also the wolves of Ironwood, Angerboda’s other children. She nurses and prepares them until it is time for the end battle.
Her wolverine sons Skoll (greedy) and Hati (hateful) roam the skies, hunting Sunna, the sun, and Mani, the moon. For now we will have to thank them for chasing after the two, for Sunna and Mani had been too vain and lazy to shine their lights upon Gods, Giants, wights and men. If not for Loki who unleashed Skoll and Hati on them, we would all sit in eternal darkness now.
Skoll is so gargantuan that he will swallow Sunna whole, come Ragnarök. Luckily “Elf Candle” as she is also known, bore a child before her death, who will illuminate the New World.

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Nidhögg with messenger squirrel Ratatösk

The Storm and Weather Giant Hräsvelg (corpse-eater) is sitting atop the world tree, causing both storm as well as gentle breeze when flapping his wings.
The serpent (dragon) Nidhögg (low cowerer) curls around the base of the Yggdrasil, chewing at its roots. Nidhögg and Hräsvelg do not grow tired of throwing insults back and forth at each other. Alas they are so far away from each other on the tree that the squirrel Ratatösk keeps running back and forth between them, delivering their snarky messages.

Eight-legged Sleipnir is the size of a regular horse, yet since both his parents are the newly-called “Rökkr”-Giants (a term I’m not opposed to but that should be mentioned is not historical) what else would he be? He is well-liked by Germanic and Norse Pagans while his siblings are usually condemned and hated. Yet…it is Sleipnir that carries Wotan towards his death, his brother Fenrir will devour that once foreign and most likely originally Eastern/Slavic God.

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All these animal Giants appear not to be able to change shape. The Giants born into humanoid shape are often described as transforming into animals though.
Loki regularly turns into a fox.
Thjazi transforms into a Giant eagle.
Fafnir on the other hand used to be human and later changed himself into the grisly dragon that Siegfried slew.
Grendel might just be a kind of Giant, he is described as a strange blend between animal and human.
Is it supposed to tell us something that the animal Giants cannot change shape? Do they possess less power? Or are they more primal and hence powerful in turn, more Giant-like in nature because they are all instinct without complicated thoughts confusing them?
All of the above mentioned play a pivotal role in Ragnarök, without them the cycle could not be ended, a new cycle could not be begun.

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Storm Jotun

Historical and Modern Giant Cult

Ich paut dir Fasolt, dass du das wetter verfirst mir und meinen nachpauren ân schaden.
(“I beg you, Fasolt, that you grant me good weather and keep harm from my neighbors and me”).
Thus goes an ancient German prayer to Storm- and Weather Giant Fasolt.
To say that there are no traces of a historical Giant cult or of Giant veneration is not completely correct hence. There are – admittedly scarce – traces in the fairy tales and in classical lore as mentioned before. One other example is the prayer of Thorvald Holbark to Surt (!) in Landnamabók.
Save for the above weather blessing and a few vardulokkur and galdralát as sung in Seid rituals – such as the Buslabaen – there are however few testimonies that Giants were called upon. Which is not to say that they could not have existed, a lot got lost in the course of christianization after all.
One German(ic) incantation to stop heavy bleedings addresses “Tumbo” (unfeeling, silent, the name of a Stone Giant). It speaks of how Tumbo is sitting in a mountain with a child in his arms. The Giant is being flattered by calling him “holy” and then asked to close the wound.
Whether this charm or prayer was tied to the rock formation of a specific location that looked like a Giant holding a child cannot be determined anymore.
It’s possible that just like the German Horse Blessing there are forgotten allegories or metaphors we just cannot decipher anymore nowadays.

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Even if there had never been a historical Giant cult, who says they cannot or should not be venerated? They have truly remained trolltrygg and have kept this world alive and still in relative balance despite what we have done and continue to do to it. For this alone they deserve the utmost respect that they were so long denied.

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Their path is one of selflessness. They know of their personal futures, of their fates, and yet they accept it, working towards the next great leap in evolution (Ragnarök) without fear or regret. Nature itself cannot die. Nothing can. There is no death, only transformation.
The Asen are fighting so that there will be something left after our world has been burned, that is their role and they fulfill it just as dutifully. They are the stabilizing forces, without the giants they would represent stagnation. Without the Asen the giants would be “Utangardian”, unpredictable and most likely utterly dangerous.

If you praise the Asen and the Wanen, blot to the Alben, toast the dwarves, bow to the Idisen and give a nightly thanks to your Fylgja, yes, even give an acknowledging nod to Hel around the time of the second Idisenblot, do not be a hypocrite and shun or ignore those forces this world was made of and still essentially consists of. Hail the Giants!

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It’s a Girl Thing – Germanic Heroines, Warriors, Seers, Witches and Goddesses *Part 2*

written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

This is the second part of the Germanic Women series. In the first part the role of the Sibyllen/Völvas, Matrons, Norns and Disir were covered.

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Walküren (Valkyries)

The Walküren once were more than just „Wotan’s Wishmaidens“. The independent guardian spirits of the dead suddenly had a stern, “all-powerful” master in Wotan, and were not good for much else than to fulfill his personal demands and act on his whims.
The origins of the Walküren lie in the pre indo-Germanic mother/Goddess cult. Their name alone sparks terror, for Old Norse valkyrjar and Old English waelcyrge mean those who choose the corpses (from the battlefield) or literally “corpse-chooser”.
The only account regarding the original independent nature of the Walküren is found in the Njalssaga. It speaks of twelve females sitting at a weaving chair inside a mound. Their weaving wool is made of human intestines, the weights for looms are made up of male skulls. They are singing a song about harvesting the warriors on a battlefield.

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After finishing their grisly incantation the Walküren leave the mound, six of them ride towards the South and six towards the North. (Six to Muspilli and six to Nifl? Also, six is the number of rebirth or renewal by destruction; this is the Kenaz rune principle, the sixth rune of the Futhark dedicated to world-renewer Loki.)
It is insinuated that while they are sitting inside the mound weaving the warriors’ fates they are at the same time present on the battlefield itself.
Like the Nornen the Walküren alone decide what to weave, what warriors, both male and female, to choose and who to spare.
Neither prayer nor offering will change their decision; they are independent and do not answer to any God such as Wotan, let alone humans.

Walküren

As already mentioned their independence was taken from them later on; but even worse, in Medieval Skaldic Poetry the Walküren are described as lowering themselves enough to fall in love with mortals.
These beings obviously have nothing in common with the strong, independent female guardian spirits that once wove the fates of warriors; instead they let humans determine theirs (!) as the story of Brünhilde and Siegfried (Das Nibelungenlied) shows.

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This particular storyline of the Nibelungs is especially interesting as it points to the death of the Mother Goddess cult, which did not suit the rigid and patriarchal structures of Medieval, and most importantly increasingly Christian, society.
In the course of the story Brünhilde the Walküre is betrayed and dethroned by men. Still, as long as she is in possession of her magical belt, she remains independent to a degree.
Siegfried and Gunther trick her, forcing off her belt and Siegfried rapes her in front of her husband, Gunther. The matriarch is dead, figuratively speaking, and as she falls and the balance between male and female rule is destroyed, thus falls all of mankind: The saga of the Nibelungs ends with an inferno no one survives, a kind of Ragnarök on a smaller scale.

Die Walkurie! (The Valkyrie)

The same principle can be found in Véølundarkvipa. Here, as much as in several folk tales, the Walküren are depicted as swans. The swan, representing purity both spiritually as well as physically, was also associated with the soul and death in general.
In Véølundarkvipa the swan girls fly through the dark forest to “ørlog drýgja” – decide (clan/family) fate. They sit down at a lake, taking off their wings and feathers to “weave fine linen”, in other words they weave the fate(s) of the warriors on the battlefield.
Wölund and his brothers steal their feathers and force them to take them as husbands. 7 years go by in which the Walküren yearn to return to weaving the fates of the warriors. In the 8th year they plot their escape, in the 9th year (note the sacred number 9 in this context) they leave behind their captors and children to become what they once were. This, of course, is a bit of a happier ending, if only slightly.

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There is also an Anglo-Saxon blessing in which the Walküren are basically described as a witch army riding in the sky and casting their spears down into the warriors’s backs, claiming them thus. The (German) Saxons held a similar view of the Walküren and so even in today’s German we use the word Hexenschuß (“witch shot”) for lumbalgia.

It is the Idisen (Disir) that are specifically named in the first Merseburg Incantation, yet it is impossible not to think of the Walküren when reading the following:

“Eiris sazun idisi, sazun hera duoder,
suma hapt heptidun, suma heri leridun,
suma clubodun umbi cuoniouuidi:
insprinc haptbandun, inuar uigandun”

 Once Disir were sitting, sitting here and there.
Some were binding fetters, some were restraining the army.
Some were undoing the fetters, ????????
Free yourself from the fetters, escape the warriors!

Are the Walküren Hlokk (“restraint/chain”) and Herfjotr (“fetter”) described in this charm? It becomes clear that the idea of Idisen, Walküren, Nornen, Alrunen (witches), anthropomorphic Fylgjen, Hamingjen and others all seem to have influenced each other to some degree; it can be tricky to distinguish between them nowadays because contemporary Norse and Germanic Pagans mostly don’t make the same tribal distinctions between Gods, beings and practices anymore as was common in the old days. To shed some light on the Idisen/Walküren mystery though: In Germany the Norse Valkyries were adopted from the Norse and the Idisen turned into meek, benevolent female spirits, often ancestral spirits.

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Alrune, Heid, Haegse – The Witches

There is a common misconception amongst the majority of today’s witches that everything was peachy for witches in “ye olden days”. This is not completely the case with the Germanic peoples.

There were Healers and Herbalists, those we would call Naturopaths today. They applied their potions, crèmes and herbs while whispering charms or prayers.
Healing used to be a solely female occupation and was passed on from mother, aunt or grandmother to the younger female generation of one family; there are no accounts of male healers from those times at all. Under certain circumstances women could fight alongside the men on the battlefields, yet men were barred from entering the areas of “female mysteries” without exception.

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Countless accounts from Viking times mention that the Germanic healers that accompanied their army or troop set up their tents near the battlefield and treated both their own men as well as the hostile warriors.
They treated them no differently and if need arose, they buried them and spoke a blessing over their grave as well.
One example is the account of the healer Halldora:
“Halldora called her women to follow her into the battle between Glums against Thorarinn. – “We shall tend to the wounds of the men who are still filled with life, no matter which army they are from”.
The story mentions another interesting belief from those days; healers could not only heal but resurrect the dead as Helga did with Thorarinn.

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What might the mighty Walküren have thought of this? Or did this happen in accordance with them?
Another thought comes to mind. – What of Iduna and her “magical” (healing) apples? Once the Asen Gods did not have them at their disposal they grew old and withered. Had Iduna not returned in time to rejuvenate them and they had died, would she have been able to resurrect them as well?
It is Eir that is the healer amongst the Asen, but not even she holds the power to resurrect the dead. This truly is a practice that reeks of witchcraft rather than (natural) healing.
Many unanswered questions remain when it comes to “loopholes” in the usually very structured Germanic belief system of old.

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The Völven (aka Sibyllen, Spákonur, Wicce – Wise Women/Seers), already mentioned in part 1, often traveled from Hof (farm) to Hof, offering their services and in return demanding food and shelter until they journeyed on.
Whether these women, who were often called to mediate between two opposing tribes or political factions within one tribe, possessed actual magical powers or were mainly mentalists with exceptional power of observations is a matter of interpretation I presume.
They did, however, consult the runes (as described in the accounts of the battle between Sueban king Ariovist against Cesar 58 BC for example) and worked with other oracles and incantations called vardlokkur (spirit-luring) in Old Norse.
The lines were blurred between Völven and Wîsiu Wîp, wise women, as they were called in German and Spákonur (seeing women) in Old Norse.

bded9915dd4405a531e923cecaf6e7eeDivination was regarded as a high magical art indeed, yet witchcraft was also often viewed as harmful and dangerous as it was a direct infringement onto the personal wyrd and orlog of a person. The further the North was christianized the more Christianity influenced the beliefs of those who remained Pagan.
Had they already been skeptical and partly fearful of certain types of witchcraft, they now fell prey to the mass-hysteria and bottomless fear of witches; they persecuted and banished those accused of practicing magic almost as much as the Christians did.
There were many different names for witches, specifying what kind of witchcraft they practiced. The more Christianity wreaked havoc the more negative connotations these originally rather neutral names received.

seidr 1To give a few examples:

The word Haegse originally meant fence-seer in Old High German. It was related to the Old High German word Hagazussa meaning fence-sitter and the Old Norse word Túnridur meaning fence-rider.
Both are pointing to the Shamanic practice of traveling between the worlds.
Later, however, the Haegsen and Hagazussen were suddenly described as being monstrous, evil magic-weavers living in the deep, dark forest and coming out at night to plague and harm common people.
The word fence-sitter or fence-rider was reinterpreted as meaning that the witches were breaking the “Hoffrieden” (literally: farm-peace) and destroying the sacred barriers (fences) of the community against unlucky and negative forces.

CaptureLikewise the terms Myrkridur (Old Norse: Darkrider), Kveldridur (Old Norse: Eveningriders), or Nahtvrouwen (Old High German: Nightwomen) were also reinterpreted to mean something solely negative and sinister, instead of describing the practice of diving into the “dark”, i.e. subconscious powers within via Shamanic or other magical journeys.

The Hamhleypa (Icelandic: Running into a different Shape = shapeshifter) were accused of transforming into an animal and bringing on hail, storms, being responsible for a bad harvest, the death of cattle or children. These misconceptions about witches lived far beyond the middle ages and frighteningly are embraced by a majority of the followers of the monotheistic religions to this day.

familiar_medThere is one famous incantation in the Hávamál (13th century) against the “evil witchcraft” of the Hamhleypa:

“One tenth I know, when Trollkonor (Magical Women)
Ride through the air in flight:
Make them change their route I can[.]
Homeward, robbed of their cover (their animal form or (dis)guise)
Homeward with a confused mind.”

The author of the Hávamál, the Icelander Snorri Sturlason, was a Christian who lived in a completely Christian society already, so his accounts of witches (and alleged incantations warding them off) better be taken with a grain of salt.

0362ba31c164f7c63bd5f558b6f333a8Similar to the Hamhleypa was the practice of Hamfór and Gandreiðr. As mentioned in part 1, a Gand or Gander was a kind of wand, but Gandr also meant spirit, ghost, other-worldly creature. A Gandreiðr was “spirit-riding”, basically a magical, Shamanic journey during which you could see your past, present or future in a different light. Likewise the Hamfór was a spiritual journey during which your soul left the body and traveled through different spheres to gather information.
The giantess Hyrrokin was described as riding on a wolf (gezäumt) with snakes when attending Balder’s funeral. Hyrrokin is sometimes equated with Angerboda. Did Angerboda-Hyrrokin attend Balder’s funeral during her Gandreid in order to see or secure his future after Ragnarök? If not by her consort Loki’s doing, Balder would not have been kept safe by Hel during the end battle so he could return to the New World afterwards.

p206Other names for witches were Alrunen (all-whisperers/rune-expert), Heid (clear, bright), Fordoeða (Murderer), Wicce (pronounced “witcheh”. Anglo-Saxon: knowledgable, wise, from which the modern term “Wicca” comes from), Anglo-Saxon Witega (knowing signs), Old High German Wizago (German: “Weissager”) and Old Norse Vitki all describe someone who is knowledgeable in the art of divination (usually conducted with runes).
The Old Norse word Galster is related to Old High German Kalstahari, a term for someone who knows how to sing the magical songs, the vardulokkur or galdralát as described above.
Although there are some historians and scholars who insist that all witchcraft was persecuted pre-Christian times, the different descriptions and attributes of the different terms for ‘witch’ indicate otherwise.
After all several Gods (Freija, Holle-Frigga, Iduna, etc.), Jöten and Thursen (Hyrrokin, Heid, Gullveig, Elli, Fenja and Menja, etc.) and wights practice magic and/or witchcraft without any negative connotation in lore. The Völva of the Völuspa, Heidi, is human even and both humanity as well as Gods were grateful for her messages.

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Bindrunes for galdraworkings

The Edda teaches that Wotan even crossed the social taboo of forcing himself into the sacred space of female mysteries such as healing, witchcraft and divination; he learned the “womanly” art of Seid, the art of divining with the help of the spirits (of the deceased), something that Völven traveling from Hof to Hof also often engaged in.
However, Seid (Old Norse: Seidhr) became popular enough for several males to become Seidmen. These men were often looked down upon, probably because this “womanly” practice was of female Wanen origin and it was mentioned that the war-happy Asen were helpless against the Seid magic of the Wanen deities.

tumblr_lu81k7dtRq1r1d1wro1_500Seid could also be used against people as described in the stories of the witch Busla who curses a king with galdr to do her bidding and in Laxdoelasaga it is the farmer Thorleikr who asks the witch Grima to help him curse his neighbor.
In both cases the witches cursed the men while they were asleep and helpless, something that influenced the medieval (Christianized) belief of “demonic” Alben riding people’s chests at night in order to cause bad dreams and bad luck.
Since the Germanic peoples were all highly virtuous and incredibly brave folks with a strong morale of right and wrong it comes as no surprise that such cowardly practices that avoided a fair and open fight were condemned and despised.
In fact, they were even punishable by fine or in the case of Ragnvold in the Förnmannasaga it was even punishable by death.
It’s also possible that Seid, “death magic”, was also feared more than other forms of divination, because of the old Germanic belief in aptrgangr, draugr, other kinds of revenants and ghostly beings out to harm humans.
Seid is often described as being accompanied by heavy storms, the Gerningaveðr (magical weather).
In later times people were of the opinion that only evil magic brought on such storms.

tattooYet…where was Thor when his domain was invaded like this? Is this just an indication that the Gods did not intervene unasked, much like nowadays when we pollute and destroy the earth given to us, or that while humans viewed such witchcraft and storms as evil the Gods did not? Who knows.
Fact is that even in today’s Germany we know the term Wetterhexe (weather witch) which is used either to describe meteorologists but also people very sensitive to the weather, and is not associated with anything harmful or negative (anymore).
Viking female warriorFemale Warriors

There were active and passive female warriors. The passive warriors accompanied their tribe’s army or troop and cheered them on from the sidelines of the battlefield.
Plutarch writes that during one particular battle the Teutonic warriors tried to retreat. Their women ran at them with axes and swords, fighting them – the traitors – as much as their enemies, the Romans. This appears to be a common phenomenon amongst the Germanic tribes as Tacitus in his “Germania” and Cesar in his “De Bello Gallico” confirm.
Furthermore, Tacitus writes that the women used psychological warfare against their own men by shouting at them to spare them and the children the humiliation of Roman captivity and all the gruesomeness it entailed.
If their men fought successfully the Germanic women would bear their breasts and shake them so as to keep up the motivation of the warriors.

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Active female warriors (“shieldmaidens”) often bore names ending with or including the syllables wig, hild, gund, gart, hadu, ger (spear), brünne, helm (helm) etc. They were found in all known Germanic and Scandinavian tribes. Were they raised to become warriors or did they choose their (warrior) names later on as they decided to join the army?
Even in the saga of Erik the Red we hear of brave Freydis, the pregnant wife of a warrior, who actively joins the battle, fighting with exposed breasts. Something that confused and frightens the enemies so much that they escape as quickly as possible.

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Two factors influenced the drastic change in Pagan Germanic societal structure in which women had had a relatively good standing: The diffusion of the Wotan cult and the increasing contact with the Christian Romans who did not grant any rights to women.
Before the Winniles had accepted the Wotan cult and renamed themselves Langobards their women had had the right to carry swords, axes and other weaponry and use it as well. If not for them, they would not have defeated the Vandals.
However, in 568, after they had settled in Northern Italy, they enacted laws that clearly stated that women were absolutely forbidden to carry or use weapons.
Either due to societal change or by (Christian) law and conversion, one after another all Germanic tribes began treating their women as second-class citizens without any rights, feelings nor wits. The beginning of the dark age.

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“Holy Horse!” – Horses in the Germanic and other polytheistic Traditions

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written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

Alongside the multitude of deities in Germanic Paganism there are several other beings of importance, which are all too often overlooked.
The horse is an especially sacred animal in the Northern traditions, particularly to the Saxons.

Horses attested to in Lore

Sleipnir

There is, of course, the most famous horse Sleipnir, the eight-legged son of Loki. Unlike his siblings Fenris, Hel and Jörmungand, he is not met with general hostility. This is the story of his conception:

mason-svadilfariBlast, a Hrimthurse (frost giant) was asked to build an impenetrable wall around Asgard. As payment he asked for the giant siblings Sunna (the sun), Mani (the moon) and – should she have him – Wanen Goddess Freija, hostage of the Asen deities.
The Asen pretended to agree to Blast’s terms, but resorted to threatening Loki with a painful death if he didn’t find a way to cheat the great builder out of his payment.
Svadilfari (“Unlucky traveler”) was the name of the Thurse’s horse that helped him carry the heavy boulders used to build the Asgardian walls.

Odin_Loki_and_Sleipnir_by_Hellanim

image by Hellanim

Loki turned himself into a female horse, luring away Svadilfari from his master and mating with him in the forest. The story’s end varies from culture to culture. Here we know that despite being delayed by the absence of his horse Svadilfari the great builder still finished Asgard’s walls on time. Outraged, Wotan and the rest of the Asen Gods sent Thunar to murder the Hrimthurs. Another story is that they murdered him only after finding out he belonged to the race of giants.
Shortly afterwards Loki gave birth to Sleipnir (“Swift Glider”) who – according to different stories – was either claimed by or given to Wotan as a gift.

Sunna’s Horses

Many other horses are attested to in the lore. Amongst them are Alswinn (“Very swift one”) and Arwark (“Early Guard”), Sunna’s horses. Then there are the Goddess Dag’s (“Day”) horse Skinfaxi (“Shining Mane”) and Hrimfaxi (“Frost Mane”) who belongs to the Goddess Nótt (“Night”).

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In 1902 a Bronze age artifact was unearthed in the Moor of Trundholm in Sjelland, Denmark. As can be told from the image below this sun chariot has six wheels (Could this possibly be linked to the sixth rune of the Futhark, Kenaz, the fire-sun of life?) and carries one large disk which strikingly resembles the sun itself – the Goddess Sunna.

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The Nibelungs and others

In the Nibelungs we have Goti, Gunther’s (Gunnar/Gundahar) horse that refused to pass Brünhild’s ring of fire and famous Siegfried’s (Sigurd) Grani, a descendent of Sleipnir. The name Grani has been translated as “Grey” but also as “Conifer” (even today the word gran means conifer in the Scandinavian languages.) The latter translation would point to a connection with Saxnot-Týr and the world yew tree Yggdrasil.

There are those horses belonging to humans, Beli, Falhofnir (“Fallow hooves”), Skeidbrimir (“Snorting”), Swedish King Adil’s horse Slöngwir and King Ali’s horse Hrafn (“Raven”).

Giants’ Horses

The horses of giants like Gullfaxi (“Golden Mane”) who belongs to the giant Hrungnir (“Hunger”), the giant who challenged Wotan to a horse race and who was then murdered by Asgardian Thunar.

CaptureThere is even a giant with the name of Hrosstjofr, simply meaning “Horse Thief”.

A German folktale from the Harz region knows of the giant Bodo who had a run-in with Brünhilde in the forest.
He wanted her for a wife, but terrified, she fled on her horse. Bodo, also on his giant horse, chased after her.
Finally, Brünhilde reached a great ravine. As Brünhilde preferred death over being married to a giant she forced her mare to leap, but instead of falling into the divide they both safely landed on the other side.

Brunhilde-Sprung__716x500_The impact had been so severe that until this day you can see Brünhild’s horse’s hooves on the “Roßtrapp” stone.
On the other hand Bodo and his horse – too heavy for the jump – had both fallen into the ravine. All he has left of Brünhilde is her crown that she had lost during the fall. He is still holding on to it and keeps everyone who attempts to dive to the ground of “Bodo River” (Bode) in order to retrieve it in his watery grave.

_hufabdruck2There are even children’s books loosely based on or inspired by this tale such as “The Giant and the Nymph” (Der Riese und die Nixe) from the 60’s.

Dwarves’ Horses

One of the known dwarves’ horses is Verdrasill, usually translated as “Path-Horse” but possibly meaning Earth-Horse, which appears to make a little more sense.

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Asen Horses

The horses of the Asen we know of are Gisl (“Whip”), Glad (“Happy”), Heimdall’s Gulltopp (“Golden Braid” NOT Golden Mane!), Gna’s Hofwapnir (this could mean “He who throws his Horse-Shoes” but it could also mean “Farmyard Protector”), Lettfetti (“Lightfoot”), Silfintopp (“Silver Braid”) and Sinir (“Sinewy”).

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 Horses, Magic and Shamanism

 Horse Blessing

Northern polytheistic Shamans use the ancient “Horse Blessing” (Pferdesegen) to this day. In recent years the medieval rock band In Extremo has turned the Pferdesegen into a song quite popular on our Medieval Fairs.

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The Original Text (plus translation):

Fonna demo uelle in diz tulli
Gang ut, nesso, mid nigun nessiklinon
Ut fana themo marge an that ben
Ut fan themo bene an that flesg

: Ut fan themo flesgke an thia hud
Ut fan thera hud an thesa starla :

Gang uz, nesso, mit niun nessinchilinon
Uz fonna demo marge in deo adra
Uonna den adrun in daz fleisk
Fonna demu fleiske in daz fel

: Ut fan themo… :

Translation:

Crawl out,
Worm, with nine other worms,
From marrow into vein,
From vein into flesh,
From flesh into skin,
From skin into hoof. (Literally: sole of the hoof)

Crawl out, Worm,
with nine other wormies,
From marrow into bone,
From bone into flesh,
From flesh into skin,
From skin onto this arrow head.
So you can be shot far away.

There have been countless (fruitless) attempts at making sense of the Horse Blessing intellectually and several German shamans have warned academics that this is something to be understood “with the heart and soul only”. Of course, the questions are valid and remain: Why 10 worms all in all? Was the Horse Blessing only meant for horses or for men as has been stated before?

Runes

Whatever the answer, one thing that is for certain is that horse and man have a deep (spiritual) connection in the Germanic belief system(s). Even in rune lore we don’t only have Raido, literally ride, but find that Mannaz (“Man”) is strikingly similar to the Ehwaz rune (“Horse”). Maybe because “Marr er manns Fylgja” (Mare is man’s Guardian Spirit see https://paganmeltingpot.wordpress.com/2014/09/06/the-fylgjen-guardian-animal-spirits/) was the motto of several Germanic tribes, and especially the Saxons, the “horse people” as they often called themselves.

ehwazmannaz
Ehwaz is etymologically related to the Eiwaz rune also known as “Eo” or “Eolh”; eoh in Old High German means horse. This would complete the yew world tree/Shamanic horse travel circle.

Oracles

009 white horseWhite horses were the oracle animals of the Saxons. The white horse represents spirituality and spiritual purity, the “Otherworld” or other realm, Shamanic travel, also in other cultures. These horses were kept in sacred groves where they were tended to with loving care. Alrunen (witches), Sibyllen (seers) or other cunning women read the future of their tribe from the behavior of the animals, sometimes in combination with the runes.

NiedersachsenLower Saxony’s crest consists of a rearing white horse (German “Schimmel”) connecting horse divination with the legend of the Schimmelreiter (rider of the white horse, linked to the Wild Hunt). The story has survived in stories such as Theodor Storm’s novel of the same name, albeit drastically altered.

Second Merseburg Incantation

Original text (plus translation):

Phol ende Uuôdan uuorun zi holza.
Dû uuart demo Balderes uolon sîn uuoz birenkit.
thû biguol en Sinthgunt, Sunna era suister,
thû biguol en Frîia, Uolla era suister;
thû biguol en Uuôdan sô hê uuola conda:
sôse bênrenkî, sôse bluotrenkî,
sôse lidirenkî:
bên zi bêna, bluot zi bluoda,
lid zi geliden, sôse gelimida sin!

Translation:

Phol and Wodan were riding to the woods.
And the foot of Balder’s foal was sprained
So Sinthgunt, Sunna’s sister, conjured it.
and Frija, Volla’s sister, conjured it.
and Wodan conjured it, as well he could:
Like bone-sprain, so blood-sprain,
so joint-sprain:
Bone to bone, blood to blood,
joints to joints, so may they be mended.

merseburger zauberspruchOn 5th and 6th century bracteates Wotan is often shown as healing the front leg of a foal or horse, so the content of the second Merseburg Charm is clear.
However, some of the names in this old 9th/10th century incantation had scholars scratching their heads for a long time.
Who or what is Phol/Fol? – It is none other than Balder-Frey himself. In Germanic lore there is hardly one God that did not appear as the aspect of another at some point.
Both Balder and Ingvi-Fro (Frey) are referred to as “Fohlengott” (Foal god).
Unrelated to this, one of Frey’s Swedish attributes is “yew tree god”. The god of the (world) yew tree or Yggdrasil was Saxnot/Sahsnotas to the Saxons and Týr-Tiuz in the rest of the North of Germany. And thus the story comes full circle.

As for Sinthgunt, her name is mentioned nowhere else. Might she be a personified star if she is Sunna’s sister? The Northstar perhaps? Whether any of this will ever be reliably solved is doubtful.

History and Legends

The Saxons

Offering_by_LundThere have been some misconceptions about the “Barbaric, brutish” Saxons having slaughtered and eaten horses in twisted ceremonies.
This is not correct in its entirety and derives from the attempt of (early – and later…) Christians to present everything non-Christian as blood-crazed insanity. (Ironic considering they practice theophagia, something that no sensible Germanic Pagan would have ever dreamt up in their wildest nightmares).
The truth is that on major holidays or very special occasions – such as a Blót or wedding – a horse was slaughtered and its body consumed completely, as was the standard for that time.
Its head was often hung from a pole or from the main hall’s door.
Its blood was sprinkled on an offering stone and sometimes on the foreheads of the newlyweds or participants. This was considered a blessing, as the horse was “holy” due to being tied to the Yggdrasil (Yewhorse, Yewpillar see https://paganmeltingpot.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/yggdrasil-yew-not-ash-tree/) and its blood, the essence of its life, held significant magical/Shamanic powers.
The horse’s skull, its hooves and some of its bones were later used for a Nidstang, but that is a post for another day.
Anyhow, the idea that you can eat deer, hares, pork or beef but not horse meat is a socio-cultural development, a Christian development. This hysteria could be compared to the hysteria of moslems who claim that pork is “unclean” and pig and dog  “filthy beasts”.

gans2These “horse Blóts” are still somewhat remembered in Grimm’s Fairy Tale The Goose Girl/The Goosemaid (“Die Gänsemagd”) in which the horse Falada’s (note the runic incantation in this name!) still speaking head is hung from the city gate, dripping blood onto everyone who passes under him.

Hengist and Horsa

Hengist HorsaFamous even across the borders of both Germany and England are Hengist (“Stallion”) and Horsa (“Horse”), the legendary Saxon warriors and conquerors who invaded the English island.
To some they are only heroes, to others semi-Gods, and then there are those that apotheosize them.
The Greek historian Timaeus (345-250 BCE) already wrote about the North Sea Germanic peoples that they worshipped a pair of mythological twins, which he equated with the Greek Dioskouri (Castor and Pollux).

Hengist Horsa PferdeschmuckFact is that the beautiful carved horse head gables representative of Hengist and Horsa embellish many of our houses in the North. Like back then, these horse head gables are supposed to watch over the household and family, and they literally do.
Whether White Horse Hill (Uffington in Oxfordshire/Berkshire) has anything to do with Hengist and Horsa has been wildly disputed, however, this impressive piece of art was formed by filling dug trenches with crushed chalk.

horse in ukHorses in other polytheistic religions

Gallo-Roman

Of course the horse wasn’t only sacred in the Germanic belief system. Epona is a Celtic horse Goddess or more accurately a Goddess in the shape of a horse.

Celtic

Celtic horse Goddesses are Irish Macha (“Mare”) and Etain Echraide (“Etain Horserider”) for example.

Welsh

rihannonRihannon is usually depicted as riding on her white mare.

Pictish (Scottish)

The Kelpie is a water being or spirit inhabiting the lochs (lakes) of Scotland. It either appears as horse or human to other humans.

Greek

Poseidon is the Greek God of the Sea whose waves were called “mares of Poseidon” by poets and whose chariot was pulled by a hippocampus.
In his hieros gamos, sacred (spiritual) wedding, with Demeter, the latter turns into a white horse in order to express her grief over Hades having kidnapped her daughter Persephone.
Poseidon falls in love with equestrian Demeter and changes himself into a steed to woo her.

Another famous Greek horse is winged Pegasus, who was born out of the bleeding neck of Medusa after Poseidon had decapitated the Gorgon woman.

birth-pegasusAbraxas, Bronte, Eous, are sungod Helios’ faithful horses.

Aithon has alternately been used to identify the horse of Ares but also one of the horses of Helios. Other horses belonging to Ares are Phobos (“Fear”) and Phlogeus.

Zeus’ four horses, corresponding with the four winds, are called Anemoi. Their individual names are Euros, Boreas, Zephyrous and Notos.

Kyllaros and Harpagos are the horses of Castor and Pollux.

Hindu

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHayagriva is a guise/avatar of the God Vishnu. The early Indus Valley population venerated Hayagriva as the deliverer of the Vedanta and horses in general for their speed, strength and intelligence.

Ancient seals of the Indus Valley population already depict the Unicorn as we still know it.

Roman

Since Latin poet Virgil was the first to mention them, Hippogriffs might just be of Roman origin. However, Hippo is Greek for horse but griff comes from Roman gryph for griffin.

The October Horse was the annual sacrifice of a horse to the God Mars.

Mongolian

wz-windhorse1The soul of a person is referred to as wind-horse.

Ksaya Tngri is an equestrian deity protecting souls and earthly riches.

The horse of a Mongolian “Robin Hood” figure lifted itself and his master off the earth and flew across a river when they were pursued by lawmen.

Slavic

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The God Svantovit owns a white horse.

Chinese

langmaHorse is part of the Chinese zodiac. Horses in general play an important role in Chinese mythology. Langma is the “dragon horse” and Tianma is a type of Chinese Pegasus for example.

Swedish (contemporary)

dalahc3a4stIn Sweden the Dalahästar, the crafty and beautifully painted wooden horses from the Dalarna region are popular souvenirs and are usually found in standard Swedish homes as well.

English (contemporary)

The Red Vale Horse is a work of art first recorded in the 16th century and maintained until this day. It is similar to the White Horse Hill mentioned earlier in this post. The only difference is that instead of using white chalk, red clay was used.

Yggdrasil – Yew, not Ash Tree

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written by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

In my specific belief system it is uncontested that Yggdrasil is a yew tree and not the ash tree that is only once mentioned in the Völuspa of the Edda, although the descriptions of Yggdrasil clearly are not those of the ash tree.

In the light of the persisting Wotan cult we mostly read that Ygg, “the terrible”, is another name for Wotan and drasil is the Old Norse word for horse.
This has been linked to the Wild Hunt, led by Wotan. Alas, originally it was Frau Holle (Hulda, Frigg) who led the nightly Wild Hunt before Wotan replaced her.

Another attempt at a translation is “terrible tree” (Gallowtree), also linking this to Wotan hanging himself from the world tree for nine days and nights in order to receive the runes.
The hanged Wotan is also known as Hangatyr. Why would Wotan’s name be “Hanging Tyr”? Here we have more proof for Wotan replacing all the old (high) Gods and his cult establishing him as some sort of almighty Allfather figure.

On top of this, Wotan’s tree is the ash, his spear Gungnir made of this wood as well. Since Wotan had replaced our old chief God(s) it is not surprising that certain elements were modified.

Sahsnotas Irminsul

Hangatyr, Týr-Irmin who hung himself from the world tree

The term Gallowtree is not so far-fetched, considering that the yew tree is linked to death (and rebirth), basically the circle of life. The Elder Futhark rune Eiwaz/Eo and the Anglo-Saxon rune Yr symbolize this tree. There is no rune symbolizing the ash tree.

A more reliable translation for “Yggdrasil” would hence either be Yewhorse or Yewpillar. The Old Norse yggja and Germanic igwja are words for the yew.
Drasill could as well be a form of the indo-Germanic syllable –dher, meaning pillar, support.

Another name for Yggdrasil is Irminsul, Irmin’s pillar. Irmin is another name of our original chief God Sahsnotas (Saxnot-Týr).

Irminsul my old poster

From “Drasill’s” Mouth – Accounts of the Nature of Yggdrasil in the Eddas and other Lore

In modern translations of Gylfaginning 17 (Edda) the word barr has been mistranslated as leaves. Barr means conifer.

Throughout the Edda it is emphasized that the world tree is an evergreen tree. The ash is not evergreen but the coniferous yew is. Even in the Norwegian Rune Song it is said of the Eiwaz/Eo rune: “Yr is the most evergreen tree”.

In Gylfaginning 16 it is mentioned that intoxicating honeydew (mead) is dripping from the world tree. The ash tree has many wonderful healing properties, it does not have one single component that is intoxicating though.
The yew tree on the other hand does. Its poison Taxin has an equally intoxicating and hallucinatory effect similar to LSD.

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The Walknut, originally not a symbol of Wotan, (just as the line of Wal and the Wal-küren were once not of this God either) is representative of the world tree (nine worlds). What tree does this remind you of, a yew perhaps?

In Fjölswid 13 we are asked, “Tell me the conifer’s name whose branches are encompassing all lands?”

The rune Eiwaz is also known as Iwaz and the Old High German word iwa means everlasting, eternal. As eternal as the “evergreen” leaves of the yew tree and as everlasting as the circle of life.

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The God Ull lives in Ydal (Yew Valley) and his bow and arrow are made of yew, just like Skadi’s are. Even in Iceland Yggdrasil was associated with bow and arrow. Bows and arrows were traditionally made out of yew due to its near indestructible, robust quality. Europe and especially Germany was “the land of yew”.

The Yule tree has traditionally been a conifer tree and where I live it was traditionally a yew tree up until the 19th century. The Yule tree is symbolic of the world tree Yggdrasil. I am not sure about you, but I have never heard of anyone having put up an ash tree for Yule…

Now, this might be coincidence or over-interpretation, but it always struck me as funny that when you turn around Thunar’s hammer Mjölnir, it resembles a tree, or yew tree more accurately. Mjölnir is the sustainer of the world tree and ultimately the multiverse. Since most of our ancestors were not Viking raiders but farmers it is obvious why they depended on the hammer which brought on rain and hence growth of crops. Thus hammer and tree are connected.

Irminsul yule

Here you have it from the horses – or “drasill’s” – mouth, it is made very clear in lore what kind of tree Yggdrasil really is and always will be.

Who by Fire? – Fire Deities and Symbolism in Paganism

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written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

From the Hindu God of fire to Celtic Lugh to Loki, from the bonfires at Eostre’s Day, Mittsommer and Lughnasad to the candlelight of carved pumpkins and Yule tree candles or logs and from the fires of Muspelheim and its sons and daughters to the smoke rituals in Shamanic traditions – fire, it appears, is central to all Pagan religions. Fire represents the Gnostic “spark of life”, creation itself but just as much it stands for the inferno of destruction, for Ragnarök, the end of the world, itself.

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In northern European Shamanic traditions the act of ceremonially or ritually making a fire by hand, wood and stone is an act of creation. The wooden hand drill symbolizes the phallus, whereas the fireboard is yonic. The spark or fire created could be viewed as the “fire child”. Without each other phallus and womb are nothing, together they create the sacred fire of existence.

The Anglo-Saxon “Runesong” speaks of the yew tree as the “keeper of the fire”, in Germanic traditions it is either the yew or ash tree (Yggdrasil) that represents all of existence. But fire was not only viewed as friendly as we can see in the Anglo-Saxon Yr- and Elder Futhark Eiwaz-rune, both representative of the yew tree as much as death. The circle of life is complete in the fire-symbolism. Death begets life begets death and so forth.

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One of the more popular fire deities is the three-faced (life, death, rebirth) Hindu God Agni. Most other indo-Germanic high Gods of fire are based on him, not only etymologically. Agni might be connected to Irish Goddes Aine and he is Ogni in Slavic Paganism, the German word Ofen (oven) derives from it. The Russian word ogon means “ignite” in English. – Germanic Ing, Yngvi or Ingvi-Fro (Frey) is the God of the sun, of growth, creation, crops. He is also an aspect of Sahsnotas (Saxnot-Týr). The Ing-rune stands for the hearth and hearth fire and the sun wheel is dedicated to him and his sister Freija. And Agni is married to Swaha, whose name means offering or literally “offering gift”. The Sanskrit word Swastika (Hindu sun wheel) is related to it.

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The holy Hindu Swastika and our indo-European sunwheels deriving from it have nothing to do with the 3rd Reich, Hitler or nazism.

Germanic Sol is not just the Goddess of the sun, she is the sun itself. When the sun goes down her brother Mani (“moon”) gifts the earth with his silvery light.

Lugh is an Irish deity and former hero/semi-deity, whose name means “the shining one”. He is usually depicted with his spear, which is referred to as “the finest of the yew”. Here we find the yew-fire correlation once more. Lugh’s holiday is Lughnasadh, (“nasád” meaning assembly). Historically, the Gaels celebrated very differently than today’s Pagans, Wiccans and some Celtic Reconstructionists do. Nowadays the sun (Lugh) is praised and given thanks to, the harvest season is welcomed, lavish celebrations including food and drink are mostly a part of the holiday.

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Lughnasad was originally dedicated not only to Lugh, but especially to his foster mother Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion after having plowed all of Ireland so it would be a fruitful island.

Lugh was known as a fine craftsman and crafty, albeit in a different way, is Loki, his Germanic equivalent. Loki is a son of Muspelheim, the realm of fire, but his father is none other than the Jotun (giant) Fornjot(ur). Loki’s brothers are the northwind (Air) Kári and Aegir, God of the Sea (Water) and Byleist (maybe an earth or forest jotun?). – This would complete the cardinal points. For the four elements played a greater role in the Germanic and Norse traditions than is usually acknowledged today. (For example we have Austri (East), Vestri (West), Sudri (South) and Nordri (North) the dwarves, and four stags eating at the branches and roots in all four cardinal points of the worldtree, namely Dainn, Dvalin, Duneyrr and Durathror amongst others.

Loki appears to be etymologically related to Lugh, yet his name (also) means “closer”, “ender”, “finisher”. He closes this cycle by ending the world, he brings on Ragnarök, so a new, fresh world can come from it. Surt, the King of Muspelheim, sets fire to the world, but it is Loki who prepared the way throughout lore.

There has been a common misconception that Loki is nothing but a “trickster god”, “chaos deity” and especially to American converts to Heathenry he is often a kind of Nordic Satan. This is not a polytheist way of thinking but stems from the old mindset as found in monotheistic religions. The inability to fully comprehend polytheism seems to be one of the biggest challenges that modern Paganism or Pagan revival movements face today. The cruel aspects of life and nature were equally held sacred in the “old ways”.

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Ragnarök is a metaphor, one which emphasizes that fire is both representative of death as much as life (or rebirth) and to say that the giants are “the enemies of the Gods” is hence incorrect. The giants and the Gods (as much as all other beings) are all part of a very complex belief system that developed over thousands of years, it is too simple to state that they are enemies of each other because they pursue different goals. In the end, both of them “win”, the giants as the forces of raw evolution destroy this world, but the Gods return and as the forces of “consciousness” and stability ensure the duration of the next one. Well, until the next big leap that is.

 Ragnarök - earth burning

However, luckily not all fire deities are as controversial and have been demonized as much as Loki has been by pseudo-polytheists.

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Pele is the Hawaiian Goddess of volcanos and magma (liquid fire) who is in constant rivalry with her siblings, all water-related deities.

In the Vodun religion (“Voodoo”) Maman Brigitte is a Loa (spirit) who tends to and lights the candles on the graves of the deceased. She is related to the other spirits of the dead. There is Baron Samedi, Baron Saturday; Saturday being Saturn’s or also Loki’s day, the 6th day of the week, whereas the 6th rune of the Futhark is Kenaz=fire.
Baron Cemetiere means Baron Cemetery and last there is Baron De la Croix, Baron of the Cross. Maman Brigitte likes it hot – usually the offerings to her include (cayenne) pepper, often mixed into rum. Hot beverages and foods have often been associated with the burning sensation of fire and thus it comes as no surprise that she is syncretized with Celtic and Irish Brighid/Irish Catholic Saint Brigid who is also associated with fire.

MamanBrigitte

Maman Brigitte

 The Aztec Goddess Coatlicue (coatl = serpent, snake) is also known as “the one with the skirt of serpents”. She is the Goddess of life, death and rebirth, mother of the South and southern stars and of “fire and fertility”, sometimes called the “fire *of* fertility”.

Mayan_god

Tohil is the sungod in the Mayan religion.

In Japanese mythology Kagu-tsuchi is the kami of fire, the Chinese “kitchen god” or God of stove fires is Zao Jun.
Shapash is Caanite El (YH) and Asherah’s (WH) daughter, she is the “torch of the Gods”, in related tribal religions Asherah’s name is also Shua and the union between her and her husband is “Yeshua” – Jesus, also known as “the light of the world” in Christian mythology.
In Gnostic traditions Lucifer (often) signifies the fire of enlightenment, knowledge, self-gnosis.
See https://paganmeltingpot.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/the-forgotten-lord-of-self-gnosis-lucifer-the-lightbringer/

Icon_of_Jesus_Christ,_called_Spas_Nerukotvorny_sml

Many Pagan fire and solar deities have crowns of fire, Jesus, the “light of the world” has his halo.

Slavic Svarog is the god of blacksmithery, fire, the sun and his Greek equivalent is Hephaistos.

Aryaman is another Hindu deity of fire (note the similarity to Zoroastrian Ahriman). Ar or Ahr is an Armenian God whose name means life, his son is Mihr – “Fire”.

You could possibly also link Germanic Thunar and his Slavic equivalent Perun to fire as they are the Gods of lightning amongst other things. Lightning brings rain, which in turn helps crops grow. Another cycle of life symbolism.

 perun-lightning

There are just too many examples of fire deities, fire beings such as the Phoenix or generally fire representing life, death and rebirth/evolution to list on here. A google search will surely reveal a few more or less complete lists for those interested in delving into this topic a little deeper.

Today, fire has become something so common in everyday life that most people, especially non-Pagans, completely overlook how much we depend on it. Lighters, cigarettes, candles, batteries, guns, stoves and ovens, light bulbs, street lamps… Electrical devices are powered or set into motion by a “spark”, an impulse. Yet we do not even take this into account anymore. Everything is fire, everything is alive.

If you light a candle on your altar tonight…perhaps give special thanks to the fire deities of your distinctive path and the cosmic force of creation – the fire of life that connects us all.

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Things that go Bump in the Night – “Nightmares”: Germanic Elves

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by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

The original German word for “nightmare” is Nachtmahr, a Mahr, Mare or Mara being a kind of nightly Alb (Elf) believed to ride people, trees or horses while they are sleeping and bringing on dreams or visions.

Even today we still know the English word “mare” for horse and several Germanic tribes, especially the Saxons, regarded horses as sacred walkers between worlds, animals with Shamanic qualities.
Loki’s equestrian offspring, eight-legged Sleipnir was given to Wotan and in later mythology it is Wotan instead of Frau Holle who is leading the “Wild Hunt” at night; a nightly spectacle in the sky in which spirit-beings and Alben are wildly dancing and celebrating.

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The word mare is also related to the German word “Mär”. It has been mistranslated as “story” or “fairy tale”, but it really means “message from the spirit realm”.
We can see this from one of the traditional Christmas Carols where it says, “From Heaven above is from whence I come, I bring you many good messages” (Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her, ich bring Euch manche gute Mär).

Nowadays nightmare is called “Albtraum” – Elf Dream, formerly “Albdruck” – Elf Pressure, since the Alben were believed to sit on people’s chests when riding them.
Of course what we associate with the word nightmare nowadays is a bad dream, something that stems from Christian influence unsurprisingly.
The Alben were demonized, the messages from the other realm considered satanic. When the belief in these messages persisted, the Christians did what they do best, they made up a distinction between “good” messages coming from heaven and “bad” messages coming from demons.
The Christians went as far as turning the Shamanic riding into something sexual. Female Alben, the Succubi and their male counterparts, Incubi, were believed to either rape or seduce men and women in their sleep, stealing semen and children and causing barrenness.
The Germanic people did not make a distinction in quality between the dreams that dark elves and light elves brought them, all messages were equally important.

Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_053

Johann Heinrich Füssli’s painting already shows the Christian misconception of the “night-rider”/nightly Elf being demonic and “evil”

If you are unsure whether you were visited by an Alb the previous night, check your hair. Legend is that if your hair is extremely ruffled in the morning or you inexplicably have a few braided strands of hair that an Alb or Frau Holle herself brought you a message.
In Ireland it is not Frau Holle but the Mórrigan (her name obviously related to OE “maere”), the “phantom queen” who brings such Shamanic dreams.

morrigan3

Other German night-beings are the Frankish Nachtgiger, possibly related to the Butzemann (bogeyman, boggart) which kidnaps children that keep playing outside after duskfall. It carries them so far away from home that they never find their way back.
In Swabia this being was called Nachtkrabb, which has nothing to do with the word “Krabbe” meaning crab, it comes from OHG hraban, raven. Ravens were mystical birds of the dead and the other realm. (Wotan, the later “god of the dead” is often accompanied by his two ravens Hugin and Munin and so is the Irish Mórrigan.)

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Winselmutter

The Winselmutter, Whining Mother (White Lady) is a Thuringian night-spirit who haunts the houses of severely ill and dying people, crying for their pain and calling them to the other side. She is described as either an elderly lady, a white light or even as an anthropomorphic cow, a fact that reminds of the relation between Holle (Frigg) as described above and Audumla, the cosmic cow, Mother of all.

Arabian Paganism and Islam’s Pagan Origins

written by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

(Mohammed and his followers went on a rampage to destroy every trace of Paganism in Arabia, but at least a few survived! A relief of AlLat, 100 AD)

Muslims call the time pre islam “jahiliyyah” – age of ignorance. In turn what muslims are ignorant of is that the Allah/Al-ilah they worship is but an ancient Pagan deity. 

Most of what we know of Arabian polytheism is from scanty reliefs and stone inscriptions and from Ibn al-Kalbi’s “Kitab al-asnam”, Book of Idols.

The name Allah is the personal name of the God of the moon. He was married to the Goddess of the sun and had three children with her, the “daughters of Allah”.
His daughters’ names were AlLat (“The Goddess”), Goddess of harvest, fertility, and love. Like her mother she was associated with the sun. She might be related to Greek Leto, mother of the sun God Apollo.
AlUzza (“the Mighty One”) was the Goddess of honor, justice, war, and passion. She was associated with the stars.
Manat was the Goddess of fate, death, and the afterlife. Like Allah she was associated with the moon. Medina is named after her.
The Gods in this divine family were considered “high Gods”, meaning they were at the top of the pantheon of Arabic deities.

deusas

Some view them as separate although connected deities, but most non-islamic scholars agree that Allah and Hubal are one and the same God. One of Hubal’s names is also “Lord of the seven oracle arrows”, the number seven representing the moon.
The “horns” of fertility of the moon deity Hubal towered atop the Kaaba as the most powerful deity of all. The horns were made up of the crescent moon with its tips (horns) pointing upwards. The same crescent moon that is now adorning so many flags of islamic countries and is essentially the symbol for mohammedanism today. On the same Kaaba quadrat annually circled by Muslims instead of Pagans now. The religion changed, the God they worship is still the same old lunar deity though.

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It is important to note that muslims, christians and jews do not worship “the same God” hence! Christianity is a religion that pieced together its beliefs from Osiric, Dionysic, other proto-Indo-European and samaritan-jewish tribal ideas of a savior figure.
Judaism’s YHWH was actually the unity of the heavenly couple. Yeh was another name for El, the fatherly God. His wife was Ashera or also sometimes called Hava or Shua. Their union was Yeh(ha)va YHWH or Yehshua. Think about it… – Yeshua is the Aramaic name of Jesus…

But back to Arabian Paganism.

Djinn

Central to polytheist Arabian belief was the idea of ‘barakha’. A holy and animating power or blessing instilled into humans through Gods or djinn (spirits). This power cannot be seen with the eyes, it is a universal soul (power).
The only proof for the existence of the Gods was the effects of their deeds in this world, by natural occurrences, miracles and so forth. They are for the most part messengers and mediums of Allah who is “not of this world”, so consequentially the original source of the barakha is Allah himself. Like Catholics pray to God through the Virgin Mary, angels and saints the Arabic people prayed to Allah through these other, “lesser” Gods and spirits.

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Originally the tawaf was a pilgrimage to and the circling of the Kaaba to worship the 365 God statues inside. (One for each day of the year.) The Kaaba pilgrimage for once united the different tribes and their different practices and Gods.
The Kaaba was circled seven times in honor of the seven planets (of the week) and the four lunar phases which each took seven days. The heavenly bodies, as was established earlier, were central to Arabian Pagan worship.
Lesser tawafs were made to other holy places, shrines (hajj) all over Arabia also.

Typically, worship and rituals were not planned in advance and occurred spontaneously. and can occur at any time. However, there were fixed holy days all revolving around astrology and especially the moon. Common practices included meditation, divination, the erecting or visiting of a temple, swearing an oath or oaths to one or more deities and curiously lion hunts. (If anyone knows more about the connection to lion hunts to Arabian worship please enlighten me!)
Also upon entering another village an offering to the local Gods and landspirits had to be made.

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In the islamic religion the talbiyah (invocation to their god) is the same as during Pagan times. Allah is praised as the highest God. In conclusion if there is a “highest” then there must be lesser Gods. Talbiyah is a prayer formula that Mohammed appears to have neglected to alter accordingly when creating his new monotheistic religion.

During the Pagan janazah (funeral) ist was customary for women to shriek, wail and beat at themselves. Some say this was to ward off evil spirits, others say it was so the spirit of the deceased would not enter and possess a living body. Women were considered to be especially susceptible to spirit possession.

The ritual animal mass slaughter-bloodbath by the hands of woman, man and child (after the holiday of Eid) is widely known in islamic culture. This, too, stems from Pagan times when the first goat of the flock was sacrificed to AlLat, Goddess of harvest, after summer’s end. It might be best to comment that only men and sometimes women sacrificed to AlLat, never children.

Ancient Arabian lunar chart

Aqiqah is the islamic practice of sacrificing a sheep or lamb to Allah when a child is born. The Pagan meaning of this sacrifice was to appease Allah so he would take the lamb instead of the child. (Infant mortality was high in ancient Arabia.)

Idols called wathan (hence the new name Wathanism for Arabian Neo-Paganism) were interpreted as the temporary house of the baetyl, deities, not as the specific deity itself. They were power points at which the worshipper could invoke the presence of the deity.

Wathan for a baetyl

The deities and beings of Arabian polytheism are too many to list on here, a list and more thorough description of who they are and their interrelations can be found at sacred-texts archive online or on Wikipedia for example.
Many of the later ones already bear the hallmarks of Christian influence. For example Uj ibn Anak is a jabbar, giant, said to have bred with humanity. The whole story reminds a bit of the tale of the nephilim, whereas in the Bible it was angels that had bred with mankind and brought forth the giants (nephilim) hence.
Maryam (Mary) was acknowledged as a deity in Arabian Paganism and many Gods from other cultures in the general area were adopted into the pantheon of Arabian Gods as well.

Other ways of devotion were tree, animal, phallic worship and the devotion to the Mother Goddess. Unfortunately, despite such rich tribal pantheons of female deities women were still treated rather horribly in the Arab society. Something that the mohammedian religion only made worse evidently.

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It’s questionable whether there is an actual existent Arabian Neo-Paganism to speak of. There are no written records of it, only accounts of what once was. It is rumored that in the Levant Neo-Paganism is growing, albeit in secret as apostasy from islam is punishable by death.
I have found only one person online that described himself as a Wathanist and he was a third generation Jordanian American from a non-muslim family already.

Does anyone know of an online forum or Wathanist blog other than the blogspot one, which appears to be dead? If you do, please drop me a line.

The Fylgjen – Guardian Animal Spirits

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by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

In the Norse traditions the Fylgjen (Old Norse: Fylgjur = followers) are guardian spirits. The concept of Fylgjur was adopted by today’s German Heathens and Germanic Pagans, though the guardians prayed to were originall the Idisen (Old Norse: Disir. > https://paganmeltingpot.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/its-a-girl-thing-germanic-heroines-warriors-seers-witches-and-goddesses-part-1/ ). Every human being and every Asen and Wanen deity has at least one such guardian spirit representing the specific soul energies and personality traits of its charge and always gently guiding them back to who they truly are. These spirits usually take the form of an animal and in Scandinavia they are said to take on the shape of young females also on occasion.

My Guardian - Spirit Companion 2

Thunar had his goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngjöstr, Freija had her cats, Ingvi-Fro his boar Gullinborsti, Heimdall his rooster Gullinkampi and his faithful horse Gullintop, Wotan his wolves Geri and Freki and his two ravens Hugin and Munin, and so forth.

It is notable that the Jöten and Thursen (giants) do not possess Fylgjen. What would they need protecting or guarding from? Also they are the forces of nature embodied and nature is endowed with an immeasurable multitude of facets and soul energies. And how would you lead nature back to itself? This, it seems, is necessary for simpler creatures but certainly not nature.

Traditionally Fylgjen would take the shape of regional animals (Germanic spirituality was irrevocably tied to land, soil, family and fate).

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Fylgjen don’t show themselves to their charges until they reveal themselves to them in the final hour of death. However, there is one exception. It was believed that they show themselves to those who possess the “second face”, people with special connections to the spirit world, Sibyllen (seers), Alruner (witches) amongst others.

If you do not possess the gift it is still possible to find out what or who your Fylgje is. According to folklore you must wrap a handkerchief around the blade of a knife three times. Hold up the knife at the ends of the handkerchief and begin thinking of or speak the names of the animals that come to mind. When the blade slips through the handkerchief and falls to the ground you know which animal represents your Fylgje – the last one you thought of.

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Other names for the Fylgjen are Forynia, Vardivil, Vardögl, Vardöiel und Vardygr, Folgie or Ham(ingja).

It’s a Girl Thing! – Germanic Heroines, Warriors, Seers, Witches and Goddesses *Part 1*

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written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt

 Germanic lore is filled with heroines, fierce women, both mortal and immortal. It seems important to note that neither mortal women – priestesses and seers, amongst others – nor the Goddesses were meek, gentle loving mother figures; the warrior aspect was very strong in each of them.
Too many Pagans pervert Freija into nothing but a “Love Goddess”, completely ignoring her role as head of the Walküren. – Once the Walküren bring in the slain warriors it is not Wotan who first gets to choose the strongest, bravest and boldest ones but Freija. If you have ever listened to German or Scandinavian folk tales in which Freija angrily rides on her chariot drawn by gargantuan cats bearing their claws, you might not look at her as nothing but a gentle deity of love anymore.

The Sibyllen (Seers)

seerThe Sibyllen (seers) had a very high standing in Germanic culture.
Waluburg is one that deserves more credit than she receives these days; the Walpurgisnacht fest is named after her. On the contrary to popular belief it does not derive from Christian Benedictine nun Walburga who lived in the 700’s AC. – !
Walurburg’s name was mentioned on Greek ceramic shards found in Egypt from around 2 AD.
Another source for her existence was found on a list of Greek-Egyptian soldiers – “Waluburg, Semnoni Sybilla”, meaning Waluburg, Seer of the Semnone tribe.

It is unclar how she wound up in Egypt, it may be concluded that she was either a hostage or more possibly accompanied a Germanic troop of the Roman army. Seers were highly valued by both the Germanic and also the Roman people.

In fact, Waluburg’s name already points to her profession. Walus means stave. Sibyllen worked with rune staves but also a wand-like stave with which they directed power.

gambara

Gambara is another potent Sibylle. She was a Winnile high priestess who represented the female principle of the Goddess(es) and of her tribe, just as her two sons, warriors, represented the male principle. The name Gambara also reveals her position. Gambara comes from gand, gander, gandr = stave and bara means to bear.
The Laiamicho-myth describes in detail how the Langobards received their name and Gambara’s role in it. But it is mainly a tale about how the formerly rather Goddess-centric culture and religion of the Winniles saved their tribe from Vandal annihilation by converting to the Wotan cult, quickly spreading up North from the Nether-Rhine region. The Mother cult was long dead before the rise of Christianity for those tribes who followed the Wotan cult.

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Weleda/Veleda/Velleda of the Bructeri might be the most commonly known of the Sibyllen due to the accuracy of her predictions during the Batavian rebellion. Seers often had a great amount of political power as well. Tacitus writes in his “Germania” that Veleda was requested as a referee and witness during a dispute between the Tencteri tribe with their Roman neighbors.
On a side-note she appears not to have been held in high esteem by the Greek. A satirical poem on a marble fragment speaks of her as “That long (tall) snobbish virgin who is venerated by the Rhinewater-drinkers”. Message received.

Veleda’s name might derive from the word völva, another term for Seer or possibly from the Celtic word welet, to see. Some argue that her name might mean “good leader” from vel/vael = good and leda = to lead.

The Matronae

 

How much of the Matron cult was Roman- and Celtic-inspired is unclear. Votiv-stones were primarily Roman and the layout of the temples and altars dedicated to the Matrons reminded of Celtic traditions.
The ancient German votive-stones, altars and temples were meant to honor the Mothers, both human and immortal, with inscriptions such as “To my Germanic Mothers” or “To all Sueban Mothers”.

Interestingly, the Matrons were always depicted in pairs of three, one virgin, one married woman (as illustrated by her bonnet) and one elderly woman.
You might recognize a familiar principle here. – Maiden, mother and crone.
Matrons, similar to the Idisen, are female guardian spirits and worshipping them was a highly personal and individual matter.
In the family home this motherly spirit was represented by a serpent and little bowls of milk were offerings to her.

From Anglo-Saxon historian Beda Venerabilis (673-735 AD) we know that Yule Eve was called “modra nect” – Mothers Night and the temples of Matrons were overflowing with offerings that night.

Saxo Grammaticus (1150-1220 AD) describes how a man named Fridlevus, who was deeply immersed in prayer, approached the shrine of a Danish temple depicting three Teutonic Goddesses.

The Nornen (Norns)

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The Nornen are three sisters (here we have the threefold Goddess theme again) who weave every being’s fate from birth to death. They weave our wyrd, personal fate and our orlog, family karma/fate.

Urd is the Norne of the past. Her name comes from the word wurd and even in modern German the word “wurde” means “was”. Her name is also related to the term wyrd, fate, something that was also determined in the past.

Verdandi is the Norne of the present. In German she is“die Werdende”, becoming. – The present is a rather timeless zone, it is gone as soon as you think “now” and not just there yet whenever you think “soon”, so it is constantly becoming.

Skuld is the Norne of the future. The meaning of her name is a little harder to translate into English. Skuld can mean guilt but here it is rather debt, to owe something. Etymologically the English word “should” probably comes closest. In the future there is always something you “should” or must do.

Apart from those three there is a wide variety of other Nornen, some of them of divine origin, some of them Dunkelalben (dark alfs), Vaettiir/Vaesen (wights), Dverger or of other descent.

In ancient times it was believed that the good Nornen grant good, happy, easy lives whereas the bad Nornen granted difficult lives filled with strife, illness and bad fortune.

A runic inscription in a 12th century church (!) in Norway says, “The Norns determine the good and the bad, to me they only brought sorrow”.

What they determine for us is the law, only they know why they weave our lives the way they do and we only have a limited amount of free choice. No matter what we do, we are always being led back to crossroads or situations determined for us. Personality or conduct don’t matter, all must bow to their universal law. A harsh truth, but a truth nonetheless.

The Norns are basically the rulers of the multiverse, not even the Aesir Gods can escape the fate woven for them – they will fall in the end battle of Ragnarök to make way for the New World.

The Idisen (Disir)

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The Idisen are a group of semi-divine origin. They were named in the Merseburger Zaubersprüche (Merseburgian Incantations):

“Eiris sazun idisi, sazun hera duoder,
suma hapt heptidun, suma heri leridun,
suma clubodun umbi cuoniouuidi:
insprinc haptbandun, inuar uigandun”

Once Disir were sitting, sitting here and there.
Some were binding fetters, some were restraining the army.
Some were undoing the fetters, ????????
Free yourself from the fetters, escape the warriors!

As mentioned before the Idisen were female guardian spirits, mostly thought of as ancestors watching over their family line. In the above incantation they intervene during war, on the battlefield. I’m curious as to what the Walküren would think of that!

Etymologically the word Disir derives from the indo-Germanic root dhei. Flamish “dyze”, old Slavic “deva” = virgin and the Sanskrit words “devi” = female aspect of the divine and “dhisanas” = female godlike beings are related to it as well. The singular Idis or Dis is synonymously used as Lady (or Queen), for example Wanendis is another title of Freija, Lady/Queen of the Wanen. Jodis is another name for Hel, Queen of the Dead.

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Countless places, especially forests and lakes in Germany and places in Scandinavia attest to exactly how venerated the Idisen were. Diseberg, Disevid, Disasen, Disin (Sweden), Dispe, Dissau, Disinsfurt in Germany. Also Itzehoe (Itz being etymologically related to Dis) and hoe meaning forest.

In the same way in which the Idisen were revered as the female guardian spirits of a family clan the Alben (alfar, elves) were revered as the male guardian spirits of a clan or Hof (family farmhouse). However, the veneration, blot, sumble, libation, etc. was always conducted by the women of the house. This is also accounted for by Sighvat of Norway. In 1018 the Christian skald traveled from Norway to Sweden. When nightfall came he stopped at several farms, asking for a place to stay. The men of the houses did not answer him. Finally one woman confronts him and yells at him,

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“Do not dare come inside,
you miserable man!” said the wife.
“I fear Odin’s wrath, for we are Heathens!”

The nasty woman, who senselessly
chased me away from her farm
like a wolf said
that they were having an Alfablót inside.

The Idisen were also offered to and worshipped during the Rauhnächte (the twelve days of Yule), also still called the Mothers’ Nights in the Ore Mountains of Germany and in Bohemia (In nowaday’s Czech Republic).

Modraniht

Next up: Part 2 including the Valkyries, the White Lady: Frau Holle and more.

The Strange Case of Dianic Wicca

written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, July 2014

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Pagan religions are usually dualist in essence or more accurately they are about a healthy balance between the opposing forces this universe consists of.
There could be no light without dark, no right without wrong, joy without pain and so forth… One would conclude that, spiritually as well as materially speaking, the female aspect could not exist without the male aspect either – and vice versa of course.
In Dianic Wicca though, everything has a balancing counterpart, a yin to the yang, except for the Goddess herself. She is “complete unto herself” in her threefold self as maiden, mother and crone. She “needs no male companion”, is impregnated, gives birth and rules over everything and everyone all by herself, i.e. contains all.
Which is confusing, because if she contains “all” this would also count for every male creature on this planet and in the multiverse as well as every God, meaning she would represent both sexes equally and be “everything” – an “it” rather than a “she”, a spiritual hermaphrodite.
Dianic Wicca appears to be reserved for a certain type of woman, which usually comes with even more issues than Dianic Wicca itself.
I was a member of a Dianic facebook group for a few short weeks and sincerely did my best to comprehend this tradition. It got obvious that a majority of these girls and women had suffered traumatic or at least negative experiences and had now found a way of cultivating their hatred, anger and pain: Men were generally rapists, patriarchs, violent oppressors.
As one Dianic witch remarked, when I asked how it is just to say all men were violent when she certainly hadn’t met all men on this planet, she simply replied that men have the physical strength to rape, overpower women, do harm and that was why they needed to be kept in check. I asked that if men were all guilty because they had the physical strength to – possibly, maybe – use it against women, if women were automatically child abusers, because they were stronger than children and could easily harm them too.
I never received a reply save for being banned from the group. A friend of mine recently confirmed that once she had been a guest at a Dianic event, men were generally described as inferior animals and it was suggested to keep them all in cages unless they were needed for breeding.
If this reminds you of Islam only in reverse, you are not wrong…

In order to understand this unusual path a little better, let us go back to its very beginnings.
Few will hear the term Dianic Wicca and not think of extremist feminist, leftist fascist, narcissist and transgendered hater Zsuzsanna Budapest.
However, all is not well amongst these delicate little feminist flowers,

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[Xena hath spoken!]

and thus Budapest and Morgan McFarland’s followers have kept alive a pissing-contest over the years on who “actually” and “really” founded Dianic Wicca in 1971 and who follows the true path of the Goddess. (Both apparently forgetting Margaret Murray’s work which already began in 1921.)
On Zsuzsanna Budapests’ page we find this lovely statement: “[…] Morgan McFarland, took the Dianic tradition to a place it was never meant to go when she began admitting men into her worship space and classes. In fact, Morgan McFarland went so far as to ordain her husband into her version of the Dianic tradition, thus creating the beginnings of controversy and issues of separatism. Morgan McFarland then promptly divorced her husband, but he continued to teach and propagate his own brand of Dianic philosophies. […] The result of the creation of the McFarland Dianic tradition has been that the original Dianic tradition has had to redefine itself to distance itself from theMcFarlands. […]”

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It appears the only somewhat acknowledgeable “distinction” is that Budapest Dianics ban men, Gods and MTF transgendered persons from their tradition, celebrations and rituals completely, while McFarland Dianics allow male members (although pets might be a more accurate term here, considering my own run-in with a male of “Old” (McFarland) Dianic Wicca who had nothing better to do than constantly apologizing “on behalf of all men”…I’ll leave this uncommented.)
Budapest’s reason for banning males completely: “It’s the natural law, as women fare so fares the world, their children, and that’s everybody”.
If this should be taken to mean that once men join rituals women and “everyone” fares worse I can only suspect. Otherwise I’m not sure how to read this statement.
Budapest is also of the opinion that women and children are “everything there is” in terms of mankind.
Why? Because women create and give birth to children and that “is something men cannot do for themselves”. Now. Wait a minute. And how exactly do women create children? With the help of men ONLY possibly…???
Of course these are not the only disturbing (or disturbed) comment Budapest has ever made.
In 2010 she received a lot of heat for her hate tirade against transgendered male to females. Just like men are barred from her rituals and celebrations so are “trannies” as she calls them. Why? – Because “Women are born, not made on operating tables”.
My personal critique is not even that she excludes specific groups or individuals or that she calls for women to fully explore womens’ mysteries or even that she says that there should be domains left to women only. – There have always been exlusive clubs, kindreds, societies and covens. If you dislike this fact – start your own inclusive coven.
What I find problematic is merely the open and unfiltered hatred and bitterness towards the groups she excludes, the choice of words and also her illogical argumentation I can neither grasp nor condone.
Especially Budapest Dianics allege they celebrate the wheel of the year, albeit how without the aspect of the God I’m not entirely sure. Yule without the God?! It is basically but his holiday, just as Brigid is the Goddesses’. Rituals, techniques, threefold law, all this happens just like in “regular” Wicca, save that all of it is female-centric ONLY. Whatever Budapest may think of the origins of Wicca itself, as founded or “re-established” by a man – Gerald Gardner – after all…?

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Let’s look at the principles of Budapest Dianic Wicca as pinned down on a restaurant napkin in 1971:

“We believe that feminist witches are women who search within themselves for the female principle of the universe and who relate as daughters to the Creatrix.”
Either there are female principles in the universe (as well as male ones) or there is nothing BUT that, otherwise the term Creatrix would not make sense.

“We believe that, just as it is time to fight for the right to control our bodies, it is also time to fight for our sweet woman souls.”
Of course we have already established that a single-cell organism on Mars constitutes life while an embryo, a living human being, can simply be “aborted” – in other words murdered. You are not controlling YOUR body, you are controlling and murdering your baby’s body. Period.

“We believe that in order to fight and win a revolution that will stretch for generations into the future, we must find reliable ways to replenish our energies. We believe that without a secure grounding in women’s spiritual strength there will be no victory for us.”
Victory being the key word here. Budapest has long made public that the only victory she acknowledges is the one of women over men. No equality there. Feminism is not called FEMinism for nothing, it cares about women’s rights, not human rights.

“We believe that we are part of a changing universal consciousness that has long been feared and prophesied by the patriarchs.”
What patriarchy? Women worldwide are CEOs, presidents and prime ministers, women are found in high- as well as low-paying jobs, women are free to vote, choose how and where to live, who to love and even have far more rights in child custody cases and many other areas of life.

“We believe that Goddess-consciousness gave humanity a workable, long-lasting, peaceful period during which Earth was treated as Mother and women were treated as Her priestesses.”
While women were revered and acknowledged in many if not most ancient Pagan and polytheistic traditions there has never been a historic “Goddess-consciousness” i.e. matriarchy like she and other authors such as Starhawk describe!

“We believe that women lost supremacy through the aggressions of males who were exiled from the matriarchies and formed the patriarchal hordes responsible for the invention of rape and the subjugation of women.”
Again, there is not a smidgeon of historical evidence for this.

“We believe that the female control of death principle yields human evolution.”
I am not sure I’m reading this right but it lets the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

“We are committed to living life lovingly toward ourselves and our sisters.”
No words of brothers, I’m not surprised.

“We are committed to joy, self-love, and life affirmation.”
Is it life-affirming to abort human babies? If you think abortion is not murder I encourage you to read Ron Paul’s accounts of an abortion he witnessed or google for pictures, videos and other witness accounts – if you dare that is.

“We are committed to winning, to surviving, to struggling against patriarchal oppression.”
Replacing patriarchy with their much praised matriarchy is better how…? There will never be harmony between the sexes as long as one rules the other. In order for harmony their differences, strengths and weaknesses should be acknowledged and even celebrated.

“We are committed to defending our interests and those of our sisters through the knowledge of witchcraft: to blessing, to cursing, to healing, and to binding with power rooted in woman-identified wisdom.”
They are hypocritically attacking men for only acting in their own interests while exclusively doing the same.

“We are opposed to attacking the innocent.”
Since Dianics have no problem cursing people it would be interesting as to what their definition of innocent is. (It probably neither includes boys nor men…)

“We are equally committed to political, communal, and personal solutions.”

“We are committed to teaching women how to organize themselves as witches and to sharing our traditions with women.”

“We are opposed to teaching our magic and our craft to men until the equality of the sexes is a reality. We teach Pan workshops today and work together with men who have changed themselves into brothers.”
Which translates to “never” as there are not just societal but biological/evolutionary factors why the sexes will never be equal. A kind of “equality” in which every sex has to be and act in the same way reminds of fascism.

“Our immediate goal is to congregate with each other according to our ancient women-made laws and to remember our past, renew our powers, and affirm our Goddess of the Ten Thousand Names.”

I’m very curious how Dianics would react if men accepted their challenge to uncover their own “male mysteries” and lived by the above laws, replacing the word “sister” with brother and woman with man though. It would certainly cause an outrage at such a frivolous celebration of “patriarchy”!

Sadly, I cannot argue pro Dianic Wicca in the slightest. Imbalance is not the Pagan way. Dianic Wicca is much like reactionary or “youth” Satanism in that it is nothing but rebellion against something it despises while adhering to the same principles as the subject of their hate – only in reverse.

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Thjazi of Thrymheim, a Frostgiant in the Norse and Germanic traditions

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written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, June 2014

Thjazi (Thiassi, Tjazi, Thaffi) is one of the Norse Frostjötnar (frost-giants). His father is Alvaldi (“almighty”), his brothers Idhi (“the hard-working one”) and Gangr (“gait”), his mother is unknown. When Alvaldi died he left all his gold to his three sons. They divided it by each taking a mouthful so as to divide it equally. This is why the Eddic description “the speech of Thjazi, Idhi and Gangr” is a metaphor for gold itself.
Like most Jötnar Thjazi, who resides in Thrymheim, was a shape-shifter, and it was in the shape of a giant eagle that he made his first appearace in the Eddas. When Loki, Hönir and Wotan were traveling they got hungry and decided to cook one of the oxen they saw grazing on a meadow. As they began wondering why the oven did not warm they heard a voice from one of the trees above. It was Thjazi, who admitted he was prohibiting the oven from warming, but if they would share the oxen’s meat with them, he would gladly heat it up for them. They agreed. Yet when Thjazi went for the best and thickest shares of the meat Loki struck him with this staff so hard it clung to his side. Thjazi escaped high into the air, dragging both staff and Loki with him. Loki begged for mercy and Thjazi made him a peace offering. If he would bring him Iduna and her apples, he would spare Loki’s life.
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Honoring his promise Loki lured Iduna out of Asgard, alleging that he had found even more miraculous and juicier apples than the ones she had. She should bring hers to compare them.
When eagle-shaped Thjazi kidnapped Iduna, the Gods began withering, growing old without Iduna’s magical apples of youth and strength.
When Loki was found out he borrowed Freyja’s falcon cloak and flew into Thrymheim and rescued Iduna. Thjazi, outraged, flew after him, but the Gods were already awaiting the Jotun.

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They lit the walls and towers of Asgard on fire, burning Thjazi’s wings and killing him.
His daughter Skadi swore revenge and made her way to Asgard. Instead of avenging the murder of her father she settled with an Aesir husband (Njörd) and a “bag full of laughter” (which Loki provided). On top of that Wotan cast Thjazi’s eyes into the sky where they became stars, forever watching over the nine worlds. The formation Auguthjaza is the only Nordic star constellation ever mentioned in the Eddas, yet which constellation in the sky is referred to remains unknown.

On a side-note, in the Ring of the Nibelungs it is not Thjazi but Fafir and Fasolt who kidnap Iduna with a completely different background story as well. This as a small reminder that different Germanic countries have different mythologies, folk tales and lore which are all equally important and “true”.

Etymologically Thjazi might derive from Sanskrit Twast(i)r, one of the chief Gods in Hinduism. In one of the early myths Twastr steals the “divine drink” of the Gods. Later on in the Vedanta and other texts there was no mention of him in bird-form anymore though, yet he was often accompanied with the giant bird Garruda or the God Indra in bird-form.

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Naströnd – “Hell” in the Germanic and Norse traditions

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written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, June 2014

Heathens and Germanic Pagans will often be quick to tell you that there is no hell in their religion, but that Helheim is the place of those who did not fall in battle but died of old age, due to illness and such. While Helheim means nothing else but “Hel’s home” (home of the Goddess of the dead, Hel) Niflhel etymologically already hints at something more sinister. “Dark beyond” or “’cloudy beyond” doesn’t sound like an inviting place at least.
In Gylfaginning King Gylfi learns that Niflhel is a place where “evil’” people go. Now, the Eddas are already full of Christian mythology and a good vs. evil approach, originally foreign to our Germanic ancestors. A more detailed description to what “evil” or wrong is can be found in the tales of the the Sibylle (seer) in Völuspa. She tells us: Naströnd, the “Corpse Shore” or “Dead Man’s Shore” is a place in the realm of the Goddess Hel, a place where the dragon Nidhögg lives and chews on both corpses as well as the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil. Who goes to Naströnd? Nidings, (cowards) in other words: Murderers, adulterers, blood-oath- and just general oath-breakers. And even suicides as suicide was viewed as something just as abhorrent as oath-breaking by all Germanic tribes alike.

“…a hall I saw standing
remote from the sun (From the realm of the living/life)
on Dead Body Shore (Naströnd)
Its door looks north (Into eternal darkness)
There fell drops of venom
in through the roof vent.
That hall is woven
of serpent spines (Reference to Loki being bound with his sons’ intestines)
I saw there wading
onerous steams
men perjured
and wolfish murderers
and the ones who seduces
another’s close-trusted wife.
There Nidhögg (=Malice Striker) sucked
corpses of the dead,
the wolf tore them. (It has been debated whether this wolf would be Fenrir or possibly another of Angerboda’s children)

Naströnd is sometimes described as a realm cut off from Helheim, bordering on it but only on the margins of Hel’s jurisdiction, and sometimes Naströnd is referred to as a castle within Hel’s kingdom, which is made up of venomous snake skin, poison dripping from its walls and toxic fumes filling it.
In German folklore both Nighögg as well as Naströnd survive Ragnarök, Nidhögg continuing to gnaw on the roots of the tree that Lif and Lifthrasir survived the end battle in. Even in the “new world” there will be a place for those who did not use their chance of living in an uncorrupted world butwho choose to do evil. And the dragon/serpent Nidhögg will stand guard of this place, continually poisoning the bolverkers (evildoers) with his toxic breath and dripping venomous saliva in order to keep the ergis in Naströnd.
Unlike the rest of Helheim’s citizens, who will either be reborn or be called to take their place on the ship Naglfar, in order to bring forth Ragnarök, the lost souls of Naströnd will remain stuck forever, never being granted a chance to re-emerge again.
For Saxon parents the warning, “Nastrond fahan dig!” (Naströnd will take you!”) was a common warning or curse towards disobedient children.

Zalmoxianism (Romanian Paganism)

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written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, June 2014

Due to the lack of written records little is known about the Thracians (~2000 BC – ~375 AC) who settled in nowadays’ Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania).
Information may be scarce, but also there are no two sources that will agree upon who and what the Thracians were exactly, how they lived and worshipped. They were mentioned in the Ilias and Odyssee, by philosophers like Herodot and described as hard-drinking and rough-necked, which paint them as some sort of bon sauvage.
Since Roman and Greek philosophers’ accounts of history and other cultures are best taken with a grain of salt it is unclear whether these depictions of them are somewhat correct or rather misinterpretations of the actual Thracian culture(s). Greek and Scythian sources mainly speak of them as people dedicated to art, “just war”/justice and courage.
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Amongst reconstructionists the debate whether their forefathers’ spirituality was a monotheistic, monistic, partly pantheistic or simply polytheistic one has been avidly discussed on various online forums.
Some of the confusion might stem from Herodot’s accounts of the Thracian people. He writes, “These Thracians, when there’s thunder and lightning, shoot arrows towards the sky, threatening the god, because they think there is no other god than theirs.”

The Thracians were one of the oldest and largest indo-Germanic people, consisting of about 90 tribes which yet were never unified. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ancient_tribes_in_Thrace_and_Dacia Each tribe/community was led by a high priest often called priest-king, basically a shaman.
Even within the Thracian spirituality different tribes worshipped and acknowledged different Gods or adopted foreign tribes’ Gods who lived in close proximity to them. (>Greek Hestia, Zeus etc. part of several Thracian pantheons.)
Now, whilst this is a common Pagan phenomenon, it is not exactly comparable to Germanic Paganism for example, where the same Germanic Gods were known under different names, depending upon the tribe, yet rituals and religious conduct were the same or at least very similar to each other. Thracian spirituality and culture was geographically specific and there were only marginal overlaps. This is one reason it is so hard to paint a complete and reliable picture on “THE Thracian belief” – there simply was no such thing.

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The creation myth of the Thracians (southern Carpathians) speaks of an impenetrable darkness and its ocean from which a God emerged. First, there were a worm and a butterfly both floating on the ocean. The butterfly, madly and desperately batting its wings, rose from the ocean, whilst the worm remained ‘trapped’. When the butterfly was first transfigured into a handsome young man and shortly after into a God, the worm became a kind of ‘devil’.
This further illustrates the Thracian belief of a life of struggle (for perseverance, self-sufficiency and justice) even further. From the butterfly mankind descends, and once they “fall”, sin, do evil etc. they “lose their wings” and regress to the “worm state”. Life is all about maintaining their “wings”.
In most creation myths there was a “void” or “chaos” in the beginning – without any mention of any creature or being as in this early Thracian tale though.
This reminds of the Babylonian Enuma-Elish and other Mesopotamian and the Zoroastrian creation myths in which pantheism and monism played a role.
Zoroastrian Ahriman was also a “worm in the dark” and even in the Finnish (Ugric) Pehlevi scriptures, which were influenced by the Persians, the original “evil” entered this world in the form of a worm, a lower being without (common) sense, slave to its animal desires, while the ‘true’ God was depicted as pure light or a winged creature representing light, everything good, pure and free from human boundaries (the body).
Interestingly, the Thracians did not only have contact with the Persians (today’s Iranians) but were ruled by them for a while, which might explain the similarities in creation myth.

Amongst the Thracians were the Getae and Dacians (who resided in the area around today’s Romania and Moldova) with their own distinctive pantheons and culture.
Gebeleizis was one of the main Gods of the indo-Germanic Getae, the God of thunder and lightning, often depicted with a spear, lightning or arch in his hands facing/battling a snake.
It is not only this but also his bushy large beard and bright red hair that remind of another God of thunder – Germanic Thor.
Gebeleizis, also called Derzelas, Derzis or simply “The Thracian Knight” can also be found in Macedonian mythology as well as the Greek one where his name was Zeus. (On a side note, the main God of the Saxons, “Saxnot” aka Týr, Teiwas, Tiw, Ziw was also known under the name Ziu or Zius. Not only by name but his traits did he remind of Zeus).
It is from Gebeleizis that the Armenian Hetanists (Armenian “Heathens”) adopted him around the 7th century BC and gave him the name Vahagn, God of War and the Sun, the “snakeslayer” who was also equated with Zeus.
Traces of him can even still be found in the tale of “St. George” slaying the dragon.
As Gebeleizis name was greconized to Zbelsurdos beliefs of a female alter ego started forming as well. Her name was Bendis, in other traditions she was named Kotys, the Great Mother Goddess, deity of the moon, womanly cycle and the hunt, (>Artemis) often depicted standing between a deer and a snake, representing her role as a deity of balance and the cycle of nature.
The Mother Goddes(ses) were highly revered and worshipped by both men and women. It comes as no surprise that although the cultural roles of men and women were clearly defined, spiritually they had the same rights and freedoms.
Thracian/Phrygian Sabazios, the King (rather: shaman) of the “horsemen” possessed traits of Wotan, especially in his regard to his eight-legged horse Sleipnir and the fact that he was linked to the underworld and realm of the dead. Although Gebeleizis and Zalmoxis are often equated Sabazios and Zalmoxis appear to have more commonalities.
These just as a few random examples on how complex, interwoven and yet distinctive from each other the Thracian Gods within their sub-cultures and traditions were.

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One thing that almost all scholarly sources agree upon (and even the cantankerous online folks) is that Zalmoxis/Zamolxis/Salmoxis/Zalmoxe was the high God of the Dacians and (most of) their sub-tribes.
It is unclear whether Zalmoxis was a man, namely a slave of Pythagoras, who then was elevated into “Godhood” or not. We only know that he was and is worshipped as a God, albeit with the connotation “man-God”, which might just as well describe his role as the “God of man(kind), the main god, “All-father figure” et al.)
However, his followers believed that they would join their God in the afterlife for eternal pleasure after a hard-working life striving for justice. To ensure this, they “sent a messenger” to him every four years. – Meaning a human sacrifice.
To be chosen as a sacrifice was considered an honor, now whether the “sacrifices” (victims?) agreed we’ll never know… The sacrifice was chosen by lot and he/she was then immediately cast high into the air and onto 3 sharp spears.
Needless to say the victims did not die instantly in most cases and were visited during their long, painful hours of slow but certain death by family who cheered them on or asked them to deliver messages to Zalmoxis.
In some cases however, the sacrifice did not die. This was considered to be proof that the sacrifice was “unworthy”, that he/she had lived a life in vain, one of evil or sin. (The concept of good and evil was deeply embedded in the Thracian mindset.) Once a sacrifice lived, another one was chosen instantly.

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Dacian life revolved around Zalmoxis and the (rewards of) afterlife. It was Herodot who mentioned the similarity of Zalmoxis, the “man who became (a) God”(6 BC) or “daimon” to Pythagoras who is sometimes said to have been his slave-master and/or teacher. The set of religious ideas whose origin is attributed to Zalmoxis does indeed resemble Pythagoreanism. Besides immortality, Zalmoxis is said to have also taughthis followers a highly praised form of psychosomatic medicine based on incantations, magic and charms, whose purpose was to bring healing by unifying the soul with the body. (Plato: Charmides)
This medical tradition appears to have been long-lived, as 40+ Dacian names of medicinal plants were inserted in the famous Materia medica of the Greek physician Dioscurides and in De herbis (3rd century CE).
Today’s Romanian incantations (folklore, “folktro”), rituals of the dead, folk dances like the Hora etc. still bear resemblance of what is known of the Dacian culture(s).

If you visited Romania recently, maybe you took notice on the plenty of bars, pubs, sports clubs or even stores which carried the name “wolf” in them. The word “Dacian” means nothing other than wolf itself (daos=wolf).
They were the wolf people, pack people. In battle, much like the Germanic berserkers frenzied themselves into battle rage, the Dacians would imitate the wolf’s howl and ready themselves for battle. They fought for their “pack”, for justice for their pack. It is surprising that they appear not to have had a Goddess like Germanic Angerboda, wolf/pack mother of Iron Wood.
Another animal sacred to them was the serpent, or more specifically its mythological variant, the dragon. Even today’s Zalmoxianists revere and celebrate the “holy fire” and wolf and dragon adorn many a flag, banner or are found in the logos of neo-Pagan organizations.

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In the spirit of “ye olden days” today’s Zalmoxianism is not “one religion” and its followers are not unified. There is an ongoing debate between the various groups on who actually follows the “true” Zalmoxianism. A debate inherited by early 20th century historians such as Nicolae Densușianu, Vasile Pârvan, Giurescu, Jean  Coman, Constantin Daicoviciu, and Mircea Eliade. Their claims and research material is still as controversial as it is incomplete and often takes a political or (Christian) religious character.
However, it is true that 21st century Zalmoxianism heavily leans on Romanian folklore rather than actual Geto-Dacian or general Thracian spirituality hence.
The ethnologist Ion Ghinoiu states that the Romanian lives in the proximity to the divine and that he personifies stars, creatures (animals, birds, reptiles, insects), plants, natural phenomena, illnesses, sentiments, soul feelings. And indeed most neo-Zalmoxian worship and practices are pantheistic in nature or embed core pantheistic elements in their set of beliefs.
For the early Indo-Europeans, the worship of fire was central to their beliefs as it was pivotal to their survival. (Comp. Armenian Hetanism and Tseghakron – https://paganmeltingpot.wordpress.com/category/armenian-paganism/)
Nowadays, no one sacrifices animals or even humans in Zalmoxian ritual anymore of course, instead their fire worship is of rather meditative nature. Candles or bonfires are lit, sometimes hymns and songs are being sung or a few prayers to Vesta, goddess of fire (not the similarity to the holy book of the Persian Zoroastrians – “Avesta”) are being spoken.
At Zalmoxis’ Temple in Detunata, Romania, followers gather annually to celebrate the revival of their ancient Gods together. During this ritual celebration of the “fire of creation” the deceased are being asked to reincarnate and spirits are being called upon to manifest.
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But even here rituals are not entirely free from Christianity. Alongside the 6-petaled flower the Christian (Celtic) cross is bowed to, it is placed in the center of the altar, those Zalmoxians believing in “Dumnezeu” (The Lord of Lords, also the Romanian name for the Christian God) even call upon Jesus. Undeniably this is a kind of eclecticism that doesn’t make much sense anymore in terms of a fulfilling or somewhat traditional (logical?) spirituality. To each their own of course.
In 2010 the attempt of writing the “Book of Zalmoxis”, basically a Romanian Bible, was initiated. It contained the collected interpretations of historians, philosophers, poets like Mihai Eminescu and even scientists. The blanks were filled in with other related indo-Aryan beliefs, mixed in with tidbits of Christianity. The symbol chosen for this Romanian Bible was declared as the new symbol of all of “Zalmoxiana” – Zalmoxis’ cross. (Astonishing enough since there is no mention of a cross in connection with the God Zalmoxis anywhere in historic documents…) It is an equal four-arm cross displaying The Flower of Life symbol, reminding of the original (non-political) swastika (Hindu/indo-Aryan symbol of good luck and life).
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Other modern symbols regarded as sacred are the square (symbol of masculinity and linearity), the crescent moon (Bendis/Kotys), triangle (Bendis/Kotys), Hexagon (unification of male and female principle), circle (of life).
The book claims to state historic facts, yet it is at best mainly a curiously eclectic and speculative work. Zalmoxian babies are baptized in the name of Zalmoxis, polyamory and(spiritual) polygamy are the new hit (…) and although there is no mention of it in any historical records why not throw in some sex rites and orgies in the mix, too.
Zalmoxians celebrate the usual Pagan holidays (wheel of the year) along with a few other more Romania-specific, semi-political ones. A few traditions still stem from Roman times or the Gothic occupation.
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As is often the case the organized reconstruction of ancient Pagan religions, complete with a “Bible” to go along with it, it doesn’t work. It is in fact against the core of common (ancient) Pagan spirituality, which was mostly un-dogmatic, adoptive and free-spirited, relying on ideas rather than set rules, “commands” and regulations.
There are several Pagan movements out there today whose political extremism (both left- and right-winged), religious intolerance, Christianized mindset, sexual deviance and confused eclectic rituals have turned them into one big embarrassing mess after all.
Anyhow, the largest reconstructionist Zalmoxian groups in Romania are the “Societatea Gebeleizis” (Society of Gebeleizis) with approx. 500 members split into 15 branches. Due to their core values and motto of the Societatea, “O Familie, Un Neam, Un Teritoriu” (One Family, One Nation, One Territory), left-wing extremists have accused the society of being nazist. There are rumors of scandals within the organization, however I personally haven’t found any concrete proof regarding these alleged “scandals” nor their nature. (Should anyone have information on this please do contact me though and I shall revise this entry.)
Other well known groups are Zalmoxe and Terra Dacica Aeterna as well as several smaller and lesser known ones.
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Quick Facts – Tsukumogami, The Tools with a Soul

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written by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, June 2014

In Japan, household items and tools that have passed the 100-year mark receive a soul. They are called Tsukumogami and the holiday dedicated to them is the Sweeping Soot, during the festivities old tools are thrown out into the alleys all over Japan.
There is a tale from the Kenpo period in which the Tsukumogami are having an avid discussion about having served their human owners and masters for such a long time without finding much recognition at all or receiving even the slightest hint of gratitude. They are complaining about such treatment and eventually decide to take revenge. The old tools, amongst them a bat and beadroll as the main aggressors gang up on their old owner Ichiren-Bonze and almost beat him to death.
The moral of the story is that all creation is equal and that all things created by God and also by man are Yin and Yang. The tools decide to wait for the Bean-Throwing Festival when Yin and Yang are counterchanged and ask that they – as soulless things – be given a soul and a life free from servitude. On the night of the Bean-Throwing Festival all tools anxiously gather together and in a flash of light, are being granted their wish, transforming into men, children, other changing into beasts, monsters or curious looking tools with somewhat of a face and extremities. Out of gratitude, they decide to build a shrine to the God of Creation and worship him as the “Deity of Transformation”.
Meanwhile, Ichiren-Bonze, deeply moved by his near-death experience, becomes an ascet and dedicates his life to spirituality and learning to treat all living and inanimate things with respect. After much strife and battle with the humans who looked with contempt and terror upon the Tsukumogami, they decide to find Ichiren-Bonze to have him teach them about Buddhism (Singon sect)and spirituality. With his help they attained Buddhahood at last.

Thursatrú – “Norse Satanism”

written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, 2014

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The first response to my mentioning “Norse Satanism”, better known as Thursatrú, in a Norse group on facebook was complete and utter astonishment, followed by reluctance and ridicule at the various “trús” that have befallen us modern Norse followers.
Someone dared ask if there was such a thing as Alfatrú and Disatrú as well. Now, whilst I have no idea regarding the two latter, Thursatrú has existed prior to Vexior’s Gullveigarbók in disorganized form for at least around 15 years.
My religious studies brought me to be with a group of MLO Satanists  (MLO = Misantropisk Lucifer Orden or in translation from Swedish: Misanthropic Luciferian Order) at the cusp of this millennium. I was not a member of the MLO itself and even the members I personally knew blended different Satanic traditions together randomly.
A few in this commune desired to have a Chaos-Gnostic Satanism free of even the last trace of Christian influences.
They wanted to connect with Chaos in a more native way.

Attending “ecumenical” Pagan and Heathen meetings rather regularly, they were met with skepticism and the unwillingness to make room for them and their ideas, but they still took away a few of our ancestors’ practices and principles and eventually creating a new left-handed “trú” – Thursatrú, the belief in what they deemed anti-cosmic and chaotic Gods – the Thursar (a tribe of giants). The Jötnar (forces of evolution WITHIN the multiverse) were and still are looked at as enemies. Only destructive forces are venerated.

It would be false to say that this kind of “Norse Satanism” isn’t reactive, Satanism is always an anti-religion, from the literary kind to the Process Church to the Temple of Seth, Church of Satan to “youth Satanism” which usually has no philosophy in itself but devotes itself to vandalism.
In Thursatrú Odhinn – instead of YHWH for example – is viewed as the demiurge who out of the desire to rule and be above everything/everyone else created the universe, and rather violently too.

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from Vexior’s Gullveigarbók

The early and disorganized brand of Thursatrú that I was allowed to look into drew from Crowley, Eschner and ceremonial magic (much like Wicca, but in a very different way of course).
It included pain- and fear-training, destruction of form and order any way possible and some really risky and sloppily performed rituals at least of the group I briefly joined. I would like to state that this hardly reflects what we know as Thursatrú today, religions grow, evolve or at least change, and so did this one apparently.

Thursatrúr these days often insist on not being called (Norse) Satanists, mainly due to the reluctance of labeling themselves anything to do with Christianity, but also because the term Satanism unfortunately has rather negative connotations. They prefer the term Chaos-Gnosticists or Anti-Cosmic Gnosticists.

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MLO “pentagram” as used by Jon Nödveidt and Dissection on stage as well. The top is open so as to symbolize the possible escape from order and form back into the chaotic formless state everything once had.

Where the MLO worked with the Liber Azerate, Thursatrú’s main sourcebook is the already mentioned Gullveigarbók. It was written by Vexior who is also known as Shamaatae from Swedish Black Metal band Arckanum or simply under his birth name of Johan Lahger.
The insistence by several facebook-Odinists that it was Heathen author and left-handed dabbler Edred Thorsson/Stephen Flowers who wrote it is completely false.
Despite the Gullveigarbók (http://de.scribd.com/doc/58774173/Gullveigarbok-by-Vexior) the Prose or Poetic Edda is a large source of radically reinterpreted information they draw from.
Sagas and folk tales, such as this one (http://www.naturestory.com/Goodies/skollandhatia.html) also play a role. Vexior points to Swedish historian Viktor Rydberg’s “Studies in Germanic Mythology” (1886) who has been widely discredited due to acknowledging the darker aspects of Norse cosmology and offering alternate interpretations.

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from Vexior’s Gullveigarbók

Ragnarök, the end of the Nine Worlds and the Cosmos in general, are central to Thursatrú beliefs, albeit in a different way than for Rökkatrúr. Rökkatrúr are inclusive in their beliefs and looking forward to “the New World” after Ragnarök. The end of the world is a metaphor for some, a big leap for others, the next step in evolution, the new cycle, fresh start, welcomed. Thursatrú’s goal is the formless (chaotic) state after utter desolation of the multiverse, the return to Ginnungagap, the “great nothingness”, because only then will (their) spirit roam freely, we will all be one great consciousness. The tale of the two humans Lif and Lifthrasis hiding out in a hollow tree to recreate the New World are Christian fiction to them.
The two religions are neither the same nor are they compatible in essence.

For those who believe that Thursatrú is not Heathen or is “evil”, consider that while our ancestors were rather simple people who had little time to deeply ponder philosophical questions but relied on folk tales, mouth-to-mouth propaganda, they were still open-minded enough to adopt new Gods into their pantheon (from Týr as the AllFather to foreign God Odhinn) and whose beliefs varied from tribe to tribe, being much less dogmatic and organized than nowadays.
Thursatrú might not be historical or a “reconstructive” religion, but it is a religion nonetheless. And it is on the fringe of Heathenry, whether Heathenry will like or acknowledge it or not.

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from Vexior’s Gullveigarbók

On samfundetfornsed.se the member Garm wrote that, “[…] In the darkness there is all wisdom: Odin looked into the Underworld (author’s note: by hanging himself from the world tree for nine days) and from there he received the runes. From Loki he received Sleipnir who is also a Thurs. With Sleipnir’s help Odin can travel the Underworld to gain more knowledge.
Mimir is a Thurs and his well’s source is in the Underworld. Odin sacrificed one of his eyes for wisdom – and even this only with the closeness/interference of a Thurs. Odin is the wanderer who wakes the dead hence studying the darkness and the unknown. […]
And if you now look at this from a chaos-gnostic perspective – like an adept of darkness he will be devoured by the Fenriswolf at Ragnarök and this can be viewed as his entering so-called Chaos.”

odin mimir befragend questions head walhall illustration emil doepler norse mythology mythThis perspective is interesting, although not Gullveigarbók-Thursatrú since there Odin is viewed as a demiurge who will suffer the consequence of  his greed of wanting to rule all and be the “AllFather”, alpha God.
In other words, just like within Heathenry and Paganism there is no one way or set of beliefs within this path. In fact, it is less insistent upon dogma derived from reconstructionist attempts but a rather modern and intellectual path.

Thursatrú’s main (religious) practices are sorcery and meditation (called Setas). Vexior prompts to “Experiment and innovate, become eclectic and syncretic in your sorcerous practice; as long as you keep to elements which correspond to the Thursian Powers.”
This is interesting because while many of Vexior’s followers are not fond of eclecticism, here he basically states that there is a universality to “darkness” or chaotic, anti-cosmic powers. Later in his book he mentions Lilith and Ereshkigal, obviously Sumerian/Mesopotamian/Babylonian Goddesses and – nowadays – Judeo-Christian “devil” kind of types.

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Chaos Star popular in chaos-gnosic spirituality, but also popular in Lokinism and Rökkatrú.

Thursatrúr usually will have one altar, called stallr, for weekly devotions and meditations as well as one outside in a remote area. On their stallr they’ll have an offering bowl inscribed with runes and bind-runes, hlaut – blood mainly drawn from themselves or any willing participant; a blót-knife, a cencer or bowl/cauldron to burn herbs and incense, an offering plate, black candles, talismans and fetishes as needed.
Talismans may vary from crows’ feet, bones and skulls or a sword representing Surtr the Fire Giant of Muspellheim etc…

ImageGods/Thurses acknowledged due to their hostility towards the corrupt tyrant Gods, the Aesir (Vanir and Jötnar) Gods and most or all of creation are amongst others: Gullveig, Nidhhöggr, Thjazi, the Thursatrú “AllFather” Ýmir (also called Aurgelmir), Surtr, Vafthrudnir, Fenrir, Jörmungandr and Hrimgerdr. They are  especially revered and rituals and meditations dedicated to them and what they stand for.

Without speaking for nor against Thursatrú I still have to remark that it is indeed a heavy flaw of much of modern Heathenry and especially those who call themselves “Ásatrúr” to mainly overlook all other worlds except Midgard and Asgard and deny the beings, Kings and Queens of the other seven realms the respect they deserve. Why is Odhinn called “the God of the Dead” when it is Queen Hel who reigns over Helheim, the Underworld? He is a self-proclaimed God of the Dead, a self-proclaimed AllFather who himself WAS created from out of the Chaos of Ginnungagap, related to the very Thurs – Ýmir – that he slew so viciously.

Frolich32OdinandVafthrudnirOdhinn has mistakenly been described and accepted as “the wisest God of all”, although even the Eddas clearly renounce this assumption. In Vafthrudnismál Odhinn excitedly praises the giant Vafthrudnir’s wisdom and revelations to him. If Odhinn was the wisest of all, why would Vafthrudnir have anything new to reveal or teach to Odhinn at all?
Just like Christians believe that the fruit in the garden was an apple although the nature or name of the fruit has not been revealed in the Bible once, Heathens and Norse Pagans accept “truths” that are easily disproven by the Eddas, simply because they are popular beliefs as pushed by (Ásatrú) kindreds and global Heathen organizations.

The MLO heritage is still imminent in (some of) Thursatrú due to the fact that it acknowledges not nine, but eleven worlds. (The #11, along with 218 and a few others bears significant meaning in the MLO and in many occultist traditions 11 representing Lucifer/the adversary), and there are several other links and connections of course.
In Thursatrú you have Asgard, Vanaheim, Midgard, Ljusalfheim, Svartalfheim, Muspellheim, Niflheim, Helheim, Jotunheim just like in “traditional” Heathenry, but they are accompanied by Ginnungagap and Utgard.

ImageWhat, some of you may wonder, is so special about Gullveig, that Vexior’s book is not entitled simply “Thursatrú” but Gullveigarbók?
It is common UPG (unverified personal gnosis) that Gullveig is the same as Angrboda. [footnote *1] As I wrote in my blog about Angrboda https://paganmeltingpot.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/angrboda-and-the-dark-mother-figure-across-the-cultures/) before she is not only the Rökkr/Thurs’ Loki’s wife/lover who bore him Hel (Queen of the Dead), Jörmungandr (Midgard Serpent) and Fenrir (the mighty giant wolf) but she is the “hag” or “witch” of Jarnvidhr, Ironwood, the place in which she prepares her offspring for the battle of Ragnarök. She is, in essence, the mother of Chaos, herself.

Religious holidays of Thursatrú:

Varblót

April 30.
The Spring Ritual is held on Walpurgis Night and is looked upon as the beginning of the Múspell-workings. The winter has ended and gives way to the heat/fire of summer.

Miðsumarblót

June 21.
The Summer Solstice Ritual is on Midsummer Night and is looked upon as the climax of the Múspell-workings, and should thereby have a grand ritual which includes the full Múspell-working.

asatru rueda solar ardiendoHaustblót

October 31.
The Autumn Ritual is on Samhain Night and is looked upon as the beginning of the Nifl-workings.The summer has ended and the winter approaches.

Miðsvetrarblót

December 21.
Winter ends.

On a personal note the celebration of something as mundane as the seasons, especially “Yule” – or here: Midhsvetrarblót – comes as a genuine surprise. It is marked as the beginnig of the Nifl-workings, nifl being old Norse for “dark”.
Thursatrú isn’t shy of praising the quality of darkness and the adversarial or dark powers and Gods of course. But paying respect to the return of light/sun by honoring the dark/nifl is a twist of some sort. Does this light have Muspell qualities? Is this a metaphor for the burning of the worlds and the “darkness” that will follow? (Muspilli itself is another word for Ragnarök after all.) For some “regular” Heathens Yule marks the return of Sunna, sometimes the return of Baldr after Ragnarök, neither of which would bear significant meaning in Thursatrú.

Anyone having more insight on this – please use the contact form below or post a comment, thank you.
All in all, Thursatrú, as a chaos-gnostic/anti-cosmic religion seems to be anti-dualism most of all.
If we take that into account, neither revering darkness nor light makes much sense. “Chaos”, then, would be something else, something other than either dark or light, something beyond, something that cannot be grasped with limited human senses but only with the heart and soul, it is but an inkling;  something vague but grand to be hoped for, but maybe too vague to actually turn into an intellectual, philosophical or religious concept in a dual world as ours – ?

1357608_24437769-390x600Footnotes:

[*1] My personal thoughts on the interpretation that Gullveig is the same as Angrboda are that this is a misconclusion.
Gullveig is a Rime-Thurs, a frost giantess, being “of ice”. She was burnt thrice and yet returned every time. Now, what happens if you burn ice? It melts, it vaporizes, it vanishes.
Loki on the other hand is known as a shape-shifter turning both into male as well as female form. As a fire-giant he would have an easy time escaping “death by fire” as fire would not harm him one bit.
As an agent of Ragnarök, would he not gain more by starting the Aesir-Vanir war in the guise of Gullveig?
Why would Angrboda, packmother, move away from her Ironwood abode where she is known to tend to her offspring to nurture and nourish them to make them strong for the end-of-the-world fight? In Ironwood, she is protected – iron being a ward against “evil” or adversary forces in Norse cosmology and the Aesir – at least in Thursatrú and partly Rökkatrú cosmology being the most evil of them all.

Hetanism and Tseghakron, Armenia’s ”national Pagan religion”

Written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, 2014.

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Before we explore Armenian Hetanism, or in translation “Heathenry”, a bit further, let me take you on a very brief semi-political excursion.
The revival of Armenian Paganism has been widely criticized due to the political affiliations of its revivers.
Edik “Slak” Kakosyan and Garegin Nzhdeh both are known as “nationalists”. Most of us, especially in the West, have an idea on what nationalism is; we associate it with tyranny, dictatorship,racism, world wars and the death of millions.
Whilst these forms of nationalism are ghastly, fascist, absolutely and without a doubt condemnable, nationalism by definition neither includes these things, nor the glorification of violence in general. I am neither advocating nor condemning nationalism in this article, merely explaining the background of this (and other European) Pagan revival movements.
Often the survivors of a people that were wiped out systematically turn to fervent patriotism or nationalism and thus the nationalist movement in Armenia comes as no surprise.
(References re. the Armenian Holocaust by the Turks:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide and also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-479143/The-forgotten-Holocaust-The-Armenian-massacre-inspired-Hitler.html)
In 1991 Kakosyan had founded “The Order of Ari” (Order of the Aryans or also Order of Ari (the first form of men) or also Children of Man. Please note: Aryan in its original meaning also has nothing to do with nazi ideology and is just another word for indo-European. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aryan ), following up on Nzhdeh’s ideas, ideals and goals of the Tseghakron, “religion of the nation” as brought to life shortly after the end of the Armenian Holocaust around 1915. Kakosyan, while in exile, had also codified Nzhdeh’s Ukhtagirk, “Book of Vows” in which Nzhdeh was almost deified and compared to the Pagan high God, Vahagn, God of the sun, of war and the Aryan Armenian nation.

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(photo: Nzhdeh)

Although many were skeptical towards the latter mentioned Hetanism grew steadily, not just Pagans but even devout Christians soon started gathering at the Temple of Garni  to celebrate the ancient holy days and festivals and also celebrate their heritage. Some even insist that it helped them overcome the trauma of the genocide they still dealt with.
It has gained enough acceptance for the current president of the Republican Party of Armenia to out himself as a Hetanist. Former Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan is a big supporter of the Hetanist movement to this day.
Despite the fact that it was the conservative, republican and nationalist parties, clubs and organizations that helped Hetanism to its feet, the priests of the Temple of Garni are not allowed to join any political organizations, parties or make their personal political opinion publicly known. Hetanism is for every Armenian is the credo.

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(Temple of Garni)

Other than by Armenian intellectuals Tseghakron is favored by the rural population which often kept their folk traditions, customs and beliefs as inspired by the Old Pagan Religion. It is due to them that fragments (!) of the old poems and songs survived Christianization until this day, further filling in blanks about the nature of worship and spiritual everyday life. It was easier for them to relate to Storm- and Sungods, a spiritual duality and animism rather than Armenian Orthodox Christianity. They also often believe in the Gods as physical entities while neo-Pagan intellectuals subscribe to the concept of Nzhdeh’s “divinely inspired” Ukhtagirk: monism. –  According to this book, first there was Ar (reminding of Norse Ginnungagap or the Christian nothingness that was before God created light) and Ara the “universal architect”, who reminds of Zoroastrian Ahura Mazda or Hindu Brahma was the creator of the Gods, earth and universe and has no form, no qualities nor personality. He was later called Aramazd.
Etymologically Ar is the origin of words such as womb, blood, sun, art.
Just like many other ancient civilizations or belief systems, original Tsegakhron along with almost all sources, texts and artifacts, was destroyed by Christianity. Hence Hetanists rely on the Ukhtagirk for spiritual guidance regarding rituals, celebrations, holidays and conduct.
The historically most reliable source of information – despite single accounts of Hetanism in the works of Plato, Heredotus, Xenophon and Strabo – is the Hayots Patmut’yun, “The History of Armenia” by Movses Khorenatsi, which was written in the 400’s AD. Hetanism is only partly a reconstructionist religion, today’s followers fill in the blanks with elements from sibling-traditions such as Hellenism, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism.

There are three rites of passage in Hetanism, the Knunk, a baptizing/saining ritual for those who convert or rather, revert to their ancestors’ religion. Second is Psak – wedding and then the last rite or death ritual. These are held individually within smaller communities and kindreds or even solitary but also regularly at The Temple of Garni in the Kotayk province (ca. 3rd century BC), the only Pagan, Hellenic styled Temple which survived the Christianization and was dedicated to Zoroastrian/Armenian Sungod Mihr and Greek Zeus before it was rededicated to Vahagn.
Other Hetanist holy days include amgonst others
Terndez on Feb. 14th which is similar to Pagan Valentine’s Day,
Hambardzum (Ascension Day celebrated 40 days after “Easter”),
Vardavar which was connected with The Goddess of beauty – Astghik and her love with Sungod Vahagn. Khaghoghorhnek is a day for the remembrance of the ancestors (Sept. 20th),
Zatik is the Aryan New Year and birthday of the Sungod Vahagn  (March 21st) on which winter is separated from spring, in fact Vaha meaning God and Agn meaning Fire (note: In Hinduism Agni is the God of Fire as well) and the Navasard.

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As in all other Pagan religions the Sun and Moon were sacred, days were dedicated to each, Hetanists prayed facing the East and were also buried facing East in the hope of “rising in the afterlife”. The Moon was venerated, but also slightly feared as it was associated with (female) mysteries, death and also (evil) spirits and believed to be a “young maiden in the sky” whereas the Sun was actually a young man smiling down upon the land.
As far as we know women were still treated well, often not just equally to men but they were looked at as sacred children of the Moon/Great Mother.
Depending on the specific (sub-)cult or community, the stars were believed to be the children of Sun and Moon or the ancestors and the Zodiac, sun and moon phases were paramount in order to determine one’s destiny. They were the means by which Ara (the great impersonal life force) communicated with the people.
Bronze age pictures, statues and bas-reliefs depict the lion, bull, deer, bear, horse, sheep and ox as well as the stork, eagle, rooster, crane and swallow in a spiritual or “holy” context and indicate that Hetanism was a totemic religion.
The worship of the elements appears to also have been a part of original Hetanism, but it is their fervent worship of the element of Fire which earned them the name of “ash-worshippers” by early Christians that came in contact with this religion. Fire represented not only physical light or illumination but also metaphysical enlightenment. To this day putting out a fire, and if it is only a candle, requires more than just snuffing or blowing out the wick, for many Armenians there is a ritual to be followed in order not to invite unwanted spirits. Even less spiritual Armenians and non-Hetanists at least put out fire or a candle with care and some basic respect.
Some of the ancient Gods, demons and beings are still found in Armenian fairy tales, though they are often not called by their original names out of fear of persecution by the church back then.

I mentioned earlier that Ara(mazd) basically translates to life. Now, it is interesting to note that his wife’s name was Sandaramet and she was the female equivalent of Hades, basically Death embodied.
Aramazd’s “shepard on earth” or attending incorporeal spirit was Tir, meaning “writer”. He walked the earth, recording mankind’s deeds and thoughts, taking his accounts of it back to Aramazd who then judged each individual according to his/her deeds and thoughts after death. Tir represented both hope and fear and whenever someone had cursed loudly or spoken badly about someone whispers would be heard, warning of Tir’s possible presence.
Mihr was Aramazd’s son, the God of Fire to whom many temples were dedicated. Much like Norse Týr was replaced by the foreign Wotan/Odin, Mihr faded into the background after Vahagn became more popular.
Aramazd’s daughter Anahit’s Greek equivalent was Artemis. She was called “the spotless Goddess” or “Golden Mother”, representing purity and chastity. She was Armenia’s protector and benefactress.
Anahit’s sister Astghik married Vahagn. He was also called Vishapakagh, “uprooter of dragons” (snakes), as he roamed the lands in order to free Armenia and its population from evil spirits, demons and monsters.
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(Vahagn as Vishapakagh)

Aramazd’s third daughter’s name was Nooné. Especially the rural population could relate to her best since she was the Goddess of contrivance. Odds were often against her but she always somehow emerged from trouble, woes and tight spots triumphantly.
Except Vahagn most of these Deities were rather gentle deities, this is also reflected in the Armenian holy days which often central around love, beauty and fidelity.

Hetanism is a small religion mainly heard of and lived in Armenia itself, although the Armenian Diaspora (especially in the US) is finally starting to catch on and embrace its native Pagan roots. Hopefully it will grow and prosper just as much as the majority of the other indo-European Pagan religions currently are. At least I am hoping for some timely in-depth literature on this fascinating religion!

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(Celebrating Vardavar at Garni Temple)

What is Norse Wicca?

Copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, 2014.

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Most Heathens gasp in terror at the notion of Norse Wicca and are quick to point out that Wiccan principles and Eddic ones could never merge, while not even raising a brow at Egyptian, Hellenic , Roman or other types of Wicca.
What riles the majority of them most is Wicca’s alleged “fluffy” nature – the rule of three and harm ye none.
Our Germanic and Norse ancestors were a harsh yet playful people and the revival of the Norse spirituality often forgets the playful and joyful part and instead focuses on the warrior-like nature of it. But ripping one element out of context of a whole spirituality of course makes little sense and thus I proclaim that Norse Wicca comes much closer to our ancestors’ spirituality than what today’s – especially American – Heathens have turned this faith into.

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(From the shrines of the Matrons and the Nornen we have the “threefold Goddess”)

Simply because most of our ancestors were in fact farmers, traders and craftsmen rather than Kings and/or heroic Warlords. They lived a life full of austerity during the long, bitter winters, a life filled with hard work and the struggle to survive all year long. They enjoyed games, contest and competition and a rather unceremonious but light-hearted spirituality to compensate for that.
The (folk)lore and sagas were traditionally passed on to the next generation orally and the Eddas themselves were written down in the 1300s by an already christianized Icelander named Snorri Sturlason.

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He was in the quandary of having to abide by the strict church laws declaring everything non-Christian heresy and blasphemy under the penalty of death, while still wanting to note down the tales and beliefs of his Norse ancestors.
It may very well be assumed that he had to “compromise” in certain areas, so everything that has been written about our ancestors and that wasn’t taken directly from rune stones must be taken with a grain of salt.
However, the Eddas and especially the Hávamál, the Words of the alleged “High One” aka self-proclaimed “AllFather” Wotan/Odin, regularly speak of retaliation towards one’s enemies as well as a strong moral code of loyalty, honesty, truth, honor and defending yourself and your own, whilst praising physical as well as mental strength.
And it is also by death and carnage, by Wotan’s murder of the Jotun (giant) Ymir, that the nine worlds and ultimately mankind were created.
Wotan’s son Thor is another “giant murderer”, faring to the lands of the Jötnar whenever boredeom strikes him in order to wield his mighty hammer Mjölnir and kill everything in his way.Surtr will burn the worlds at Ragnarök, the Norse equivalent of Armageddon, and there are many more of that nature.
In other words: War definitely IS a common theme in the Eddas, yes. But by far the only one.

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There are just as many Gods and Goddesses of a gentler nature, whose stories find lesser recognition amongst the war-struck Heathens of new.
There’s Eostre from which the holiday of the same name, better known as “Easter”, comes from, Hönir who (ast least in the Edda) helped Wotan create the worlds together with Loki and is referred to as “The silent one” which may also be translated to the meek one from old Norse. Eir is the Aesir Goddess of healing, Baldur the God of rebirth, peace and beauty. And on and on it continues.

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If we now go back to the principle of “An ye harm none do what you wilt” I personally don’t know one single Wiccan who would attest to that without explaining this a little further. The principle here is not much different from Buddha’s golden rule, Christianity’s “Don’t do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, and many other religion’s central law. It is even rather close to philosopher Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative.
It is a “Do your best not to harm anyone” or also a “Try to find a solution which will do the least harm to everyone involved.” Harm none otherwise is impossible. Many Wiccans I know eat meat, wear leather shoes, unlike me use a flyswatter, make Freudian slips or get on people’s bad side every once in a while, so to take it completely literal makes little sense of course.

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As for the rule of three, “Whatever you do it will come back to you times three” the core of it may just as well be found in the Eddas as “What goes around comes around”. What else is Lokasenna about?:
In this chapter of the Eddas, the Aesir Gods along with Loki, sit in Valhalla enjoying a large feast, when Loki rises to turn to every single God to remind him/her of his/her mistakes, misdeeds (sins) and concludes his statements with personal insults.
And right he is, the arrogant tribe, the reigning “caste” of the Aesir Gods with Wotan – the God of corruption and crime, as their King – will face all their mistakes made out of fear to lose their status and superiority. At Ragnarök, the worlds’ will end. What goes around comes around indeed.

Wicca is not a dualist but a very inclusive religion, it accepts that all of nature and all elements of the circle of life are necessary and beautiful in their own way, not just the stars, the moon, spring blossoms and majestic sunsets, but also thunderstorms, tornados, the food chain and death just as much as life. Gerald Gardner was eager to promote a more positive image for witchcraft and Wicca and emphasized its meeker, gentler and more joyful qualities, but it is more than just that.

Germanic and Norse beliefs are partly very similar to that concept, although they, too, have been twisted and willfully misinterpreted by most “Heathens” or rather Heathen converts.
The Aesir Gods are always holding back the Jötnar and Rökkr Gods (those who will bring about Ragnarök). They are usually deemed chaotic, but in truth they are the evolutionary forces of nature; stagnation and evolution constantly struggling with each other, some say keeping each other in check.
The Vanir are somewhere in between these two, after the Aesir/Vanir war the Vanir were basically annexed but still were not at war with the giants at least. A trinity of balance if you like.

Of course the next thing extremist Heathens will attack is magic (or, as one spat at me, “Your Pagan magjickckk or whatever you call it”.), claiming that our ancestors did not practice magic.

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Really!
And what would you call Seidr, Spae and Galdr? Why are there magical incantations or inscriptions on drinking horns, battle helms and weaponry and even other everyday items, found of nearly a thousand  years ago?
Did not Wotan himself learn the “womanly” practice of casting the runes, of the magical practices named above? Oh, we had magic alright.
Even a simple Blót by the use of blood already had something magical, meant to weave a connection between man and God or to call upon a certain God or Goddess – hence the name “Blót” simply meaning blood.

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Some Heathens, especially those on the fringe of it like Odinists, criticize Ásatrú’s practice of calling upon the four dwarves when creating a Vé (holy space) or beginning a Blót, ritual or holiday celebration, because it is most likely not historical and reminds of calling the four corners. In fact, there is much critique trying to establish new rituals based upon our ancient moral codes, beliefs, lore and the little we know about our religion and magic.
Sadly almost all of it was destroyed due to violent Christianization and thus we have to piece together the facts and fill in the blanks where facts are missing. Maybe it is less about “right and historically authentic” ritual, but much more about the intention behind such a ritual? At least in the case of…simply not having any historical sources to go with?! … After all, over the ages our ancestors had developed and kept developing their practices as well, quite naturally and over time.
And not every tribe held the same beliefs, believed in the same Gods or even knew of them. So maybe a tad more acceptance and open-mindedness would suit our angry Heathen brethren regarding the ideas and concepts of Norse Wicca.

Sadly it is especially an (American) Heathen issue to keep the mindset of monotheism, the “versus mentality” of “If you are not for me you are against me”. Dealing with the Heathen community feels a lot like my time at Catholic church or the mosque. A repressive atmosphere with all too many sugary sprinkles of self-righteousness mixed in. Bon appetit!

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As for the celebration of Sabbats, while not all overlap, several of the Germanic and Norse ones are similar to Wiccan ones. Differences would be the Germanic Cake Fest on the first new moon after Yule and the Horse Fest on Sept. 22 (especially important to us Saxons) for example. And the Germanic peoples had no Imbolc but especially in Sweden the Disablot was celebrated around that time of year. So yes, there are a few differences here and there, but there are a few – more than a few – differences in the Germanic, Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic traditions too, although they were all related. Anyhow, Nordic Wiccans and Germanic and Norse Pagans alike have come up with ways to incorporate the Germanic holy days into the Year of the Wheel and I was happy to witness the merging of Brighid/Imbolc with a wonderful ritual dedicated to Baldur and his wife Nanna. A very thoughtful choice to celebrate Baldur on that day.

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What else Norse Wiccans will or will not do varies greatly. As many Heathen kindreds, hofs, cults, sub-cults and the like there are, Norse Wicca is just as versatile, albeit on a more individualistic level without the righteous Heathen condemnation of everything and everyone who disagrees with their views and practices.

Generally, to Norse Wiccans all Gods are still essentially the one God and all Goddesses the one Goddess. Nature is sacred, the Eddas and sagas are the texts they draw strength, wisdom and inspiration from, there are Norse Wiccans focusing more on the Aesir, many on the Vanir and some even on the Rökkr, depending on their personal preferences or inclinations.
Norse Wicca is a small faith, often practiced by solitaries and even covens are not very outspoken and a little shy to speak about their practices. They are sometimes slightly feared by other types of Wiccans because those have already mostly made very negative experiences with Heathens, as much as they are hated and ridiculed by Heathens, labeled “Wiccatru”, fluffy bunnies or much worse.
The use of Norse symbols and symbology is a given, in addition to that Norse Wiccans just like every other Wiccan have the pentagram. Often assigning their patron and matron deities or just the Gods they work closest with to the single points. For example: Fire – Surtr, Air – Loki, Earth – Fjörgyn, Water – Ran and Ether – their personal high god, sometimes Odin as the “AllFather” for the Aesir-oriented Norse Wiccans or Freyr for the Vanatrur or Loki for the Rökkatrur.

It is my sincerest hope that while the hardcore Heathens keep bickering and excluding everyone who dares disagree with them at least Wicca and other Pagan traditions will slowly start being more open towards Norse Wiccans, and that the latter will finally start stepping out of the shadows and claim what is theirs – a rightful place in the worldwide Pagan community.

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Edit/P.S.: Just for reference, I’m not Norse Wiccan. I got a dozen replies of (American of course) Heathens, half of them all in capital letters (…) the other half offering to teach me “their ways” and told me my religion was as “real” as believing in the Jedi. To those I say: I grew up in the Firne Situ, so I really don’t need your convert opinions on our Northern European ways, thanks. And thanks for proving me right regarding everything I’ve written about you folks on here. 😉

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The forgotten Lord of Self-Gnosis – Lucifer the Lightbringer

written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriuntl, 2014

ImageIn the Pagan religions, the divine ‘adversaries’ are without exception integrated into their pantheons, often at least marginally included in ceremonies and sometimes even deeply revered (Kali, Shiva, Loki.) They are also – like the Biblical Morningstar – linked with light or its more aggressive and passionate twin, fire. As fire is also a cleansing agent in magical workings, there’s suddenly a completely new (metaphorical) meaning to both hell and purgatory.
Why then is it that the majority of Pagans still cringe upon hearing his name whilst mainly Wiccans deny his very existence, claiming he was an exclusively Christian invention?

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(This is actually a book written by P. Baker, but for those without humor: it’s also tongue in cheek)

In order to understand the role of Satan, the “Adversary” we must take a closer look at his beginnings. When his name was still simply Lucifer he was “the most beautiful Angel of God” and a most humble servant of the latter.
However, there is a hint of his role as future Satan in the name Lucifer already. Latin lux/luc = light and Lucifer literally meaning Lightbringer or –bearer. Now, another translation is Morningstar, in other words Venus. (Also the planet associated with Christ Jesus, a different form of Lightbringer.) Even his Hebrew name הֵילֵל, Heylel, translates to The Shining One, while in Greek he is ἑωσφόρος(Eosphoros), Bringer of Dawn.

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Eosphoros/Phosphoros

The term Morningstar was a coined phrase during these days and thus not every Morningstar addressed in the Bible refers to Lucifer. Herein originates the misconception of his fall from grace and Heaven. Isaiah 14:14 teaches us that “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” and has been proven by historians refers to King Nebuchadnezzar rather than the angel Lucifer. In the New Testament this false belief had already solidified and with Revelations mentioning that “the old Dragon, the old Snake” will bring about the end of the world as we know it, Lucifer’s once immaculate reputation had been sullied successfully.
nebuchadnezzarOne might argue that whilst all this might be true, Lucifer already acts as Satan/Adversary in the Old Testament’s Book of Job. Not only do we get a glimpse of the lengths Satan will go to in order to test Job’s faith but he obviously does so with the full consent of God him/herself.

Let us examine the events a little closer: As Satan returns from one of his “walks” on Earth, God asks him whether he took proper notice of his most faithful servant, Job of Uz. Satan remarks that it is no great achievement to be faithful when you have been blessed with a large family, wealth and the fulfillment of all your mundane dreams and suggests testing the steadfastness of Job’s faith once he loses his family, wealth and health. Job curses, rages, begs for death, suffers horribly, yet in the end he renews his faith as God keeps exerting pressure on him.

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Hiob/Job

In the New Testament’s book of Matthew 4:1-11 Christ Jesus withdraws into the desert in order to fast for forty days. It is said in Matt 4:1 that “the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted”. This time God and Satan’s roles are reversed since God initiates the test. Also it is God who stays in the background, not making his/her voice heard as Satan exerts the pressure, asking Jesus to cast himself from the highest point of a temple in order to prove his unwavering faith that the Almighty would save him from death. When Jesus refuses, Satan offers Jesus all the earthly riches imaginable and the whole world to reign, if only he bow to Satan. Yet Jesus – without hesitation – rebukes him. Thus concludes the test.
Both Job and Jesus come to their own individual personal self-gnosis. Neither enters the preceding temptations voluntarily, yet emerges from them with newfound determination and a stronger fundament of their faith. They are – in other words – enlightened. Satan, the Adversary becomes Lucifer the Lightbringer once we break the chains of our mind and dare look beyond the physical/mundane.

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The Lightbringer “tempting” Yeshua in the desert.

There is a plethora of Gnostic traditions and approaches. In some, God and Satan are working together in harmony to maintain the balance of the universe. Then there are those that believe both are but avatars of the same Spirit or Life Force – essentially one God.

Despite the fact that some scholars deem Lilith’s tale a hoax I will use it to reinforce my hypothesis that the (pre-)Biblical tales are less about the fight between good and evil but about universal balance through individual self-gnosis.
Lilith, or Malkah ha-Shadim, was Adam’s first wife. This story cannot be found in the Christian Bible but the Jewish Midrash (Talmud), Dead Sea Scrolls and the much later Alphabet of Ben Sira (8th – 10th century).
Like Adam Lilith is made out of Earth, in other words she is Adam’s equal in every way, yet Adam demands that she obey him. When she refuses, God appears to reprimand her. Lilith then calls out God’s secret name yet escapes Eden. Note: Magically the knowledge and usage of a name, especially a secret one, means being able to exert power over the owner of the name. Lilith had enough knowledge and power to speak God’s name but chose integrity over exerting power over God, hence demonstrating her point that no being should be the slave of another in a unique way. She is, in many ways, the first feminist as well as human rights activist.

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Malka ha-Shadim, the Dark Mother Goddess Lilitu

Although God sends the angels Senoy, Sansenoy and Lucifer to apprehend Lilith, she strenuously resists. Lucifer falls in love with Lilith and they marry. Whatever one may think about the authenticity of the actual story, there is enough in the above paragraphs to make one’s heart jump for joy. Last but not least another etymological reflection. Looking at the semitic origin of the name Lilith, L-Y-L (Layl or Layla), it translates to Night.
Let that sink in for a moment: The Lightbringer marrying Night. Yin and Yang, making peace with the Steppenwolf inside you. Harmony. Balance.

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To close with Austrian theologist Adalbert Stifter’s words: “Pain is a holy angel which has brought humans more gnosis than joy ever could”.

Angerboda and The Dark Mother Figure across Cultures.

Copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, 2014

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Almost every ancient culture and/or religion acknowledges a “Dark Mother” kind of figure who is often confused with a Goddess of Evil and/or Death.
Quite the opposite is true. But life comes with the price of death and the Dark Mother is all three: maiden, mother and crone, abundantly giving, nourishing but also merciless in her destruction in order to bring renewal. She is the Mother of necessary but painful change and knows but duty and the higher good instead of motherly love for love’s sake.

We have Lilith or Malkah-ha-Shadim in the (pre-)Jewish (and Christian) religions, Maha-Kali in Indo-Germanic spirituality, the Mórrigan in the Celtic and Angrbodha in the Germanic tradition. Just to name a few.

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Let us look a little closer at Norse Angerboda or Angrbodha, a Frost-giantess whose rune is Isa, and who is the mother of almost the whole Rökkr-pantheon that will bring about Ragnarök, destruction of this world to create a new one.

She is also referred to as the “Mother of Monsters”, “Hag of Ironwood” and “Packmother”. The latter for once because she is a devoted mother who pursues her childrens’ interests incessantly and ruthlessly for the higher goal of Ragnarök.

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She also earned that name because several of her children are wolves. The most popular of them probably gargantuan Fenrir and in turn his children Hati and Skoll who chase the sun and moon and hence give us the gift of daylight and moonlight.

In the Aesir’s view she is the “Mother of Monsters” who brought forth not only Fenrir but the Midgard serpent – Jörmungand – and the Goddess of Death – Hel. All these children were fathered by Loki and play a pivotal role in the evolutionary great leap which the Norse apocalypse is.

Some Heathens and Germanic or Norse Pagans, especially Rökktatrúr, believe that Angerboda is the same as the cosmic cow Audhumla who was a key figure in the creation of the nine worlds which the Norse multiverse consists of. Audhumla means both “void darkness” as much as “nourisher”.

(The prefix “An” in Angerboda already indicates her maternal nature and significance. In Sanskrit “Ana” means mother and so Anath is the Mesopotamian (Dark) Mother Goddess. Egyptian Goddess Anuket/Anukhet was the giver of life and later merged with Dark Mother Goddess Nephtys, the devourer. In the name Anukhet we can still trace the Ankh – the symbol of life.

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In England we have Black Annis who much like Indo-Germanic Kali devoured her prey and sewed clothes from her victims’ hides and intestines. This reminds a tad of what Loki did with his companion Angerboda, mother of three of his children: he ripped out her heart and devoured it in order to partake of her greatest gift: the gift of life by death; and hence Loki was able to give birth from that moment on as well. (He gave birth to Sleipnir shortly afterwards, Odin’s eight-legged horse).

Angrboda (as much as most of the Rökkr-Gods) is widely misunderstood and misrepresented, even by Pagans and Heathens unwilling or unable to give up the monotheistic mindset they were often raised with. The actions of these Gods are often depicted as vile, chaotic and nonsensical. Yet Angerboda for whom fostering children with Loki was but part of her wyrd (personal fate and life obligation) did not just bring forth three of the most powerful creatures who would help create a new world, she was also married to the giant Eggdhir with whom she had Gerda. Gerda was so beautiful that Freyr, a Vanic God who had joined the Aesir Gods, took her as his wife. Thus Gerda, remembering where she came from and her obligation, was able to secure the Sword of Victory for the Rökkr Gods.

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The message of the Dark Mother/s is constant change, challenge, relentlessness, unfettered love for “the cause” and also unselfishness. It might be hard to understand for some that Angrbodha’s rune is Isa – ice, halt, consistency. Paradoxically, it is this “frozen”, i.e. consistent mindset, that is responsible for upheaval, new beginnings and change.

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Pagan Virgin Births and the Case of the misunderstood Savior

Written and copyrighted by Týra Alrune Sahsnotasvriunt, 2014.

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It is with astonishment that I continually witness Pagans deeming Mary’s virgin birth of Jesus greatly amusing at best and dangerously discriminating of women at worst. Most Pagan paths view sexuality as healthy and many as sacred. Especially those who grew up in a religion where the reverse was the case, virgin births appear to spark all sorts of enmity or at least skepticism.

In fact, virgin or miraculous births were not only established, but the event itself as much as mother and miracle-child held in high esteem in many pre-monotheistic religions. I shall explain the reasons thereof after delivering a few more examples of Pagan virgin births. These were mostly of religious figures, but also of especially enlightened humans, leaders, thinkers. Like Greek philosopher Plato for example.

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Numerous Greek Gods and Goddesses are considered “parthenos”, virginal or of “pure conception”. Many will be surprised to hear that Zeus, commonly known as the stereotypical philanderer, also was considered parthenos.

Although the virginity of Isis has been disputed, since one single depiction of Horus’ conception shows Isis impregnating herself with dead Osiris’ severed phallus, in all other accounts and depictions she is shown as a falcon hovering over Osiris’ dead body and miraculously conceiving Horus this way. Isis, like a plethora of virgin goddesses and human mothers, remained virginal her whole life.

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Let us also take a closer look at Osiris himself. He was called “KRST,” the “Anointed One.” Born of the virgin Isis-Meri on December 25th. His earthly or adoptive father’s name was Seb, which translates to Joseph. He taught at the temple at age 12 and was baptized at age 30, inbetween this time he had vanished or at least nothing is known about his life from 13-29. He was baptized in Iarutana river (Jordan) by Anup which translates to John. Anup was later beheaded. His suffering, death, and resurrection are celebrated annually by his disciples on the spring equinox, in other words, Easter.

The nymph Moye bathing in a river in China is touched by a lotus plant, and the divine Fohi is born.

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Siddharte Gautama Buddha was born of the Virgin Queen Maha (=the great) Maya. (Interestingly maya is also the Hindu concept of this plane of existence being an illusion.) Maya dreams of a white elephant with six white tusks entering her right side, shortly after which she notices she is pregnant. In “The life of Buddha” we read that he descended on his mother Maya, “in likeness as the heavenly queen, and entered her womb,” and is “born from her right side, to save the world.” He teaches in temple at age 12, Jesus does at age 13. Other similarities to Christianity: In Tibetan Buddhism, Buddha was tempted by Mara, the “Evil One” while fasting. He healed the sick, fed the hungry and obliged followers to renounce the world.

In Siam (Vietnam), a teenage girl is impregnated by sunbeams while taking a walk in her garden. She later gives birth to Codom, the “great and wonderful deliverer”.

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Quetzalcoatl (also: Kukulkan or Kukulan) is a Mesoamerican god-man whose name means snake or also precious feathered serpent. He  – together with his twin Xolotl – was born of the virgin Coatlicue. He was associated with the planet Venus, the morning star, as was Jesus. (And on another note: So was Lucifer, but that is a subject for a whole other article. 😉 ) He renounced Tezcatlipoca, the “Prince of Darkness”. His blood resurrects the dead. He is often depicted as bearing a cross on his shoulders. In addition to that he is also often depicted with a cross on his head and his temples bore a cross on top of their roofs also. The cross here represented the four directions, as fitting for a wind-god, but some sources speak of the cross representing the four elements, also.

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Mithraism was a religion followed by Romans just before the forceful conversion to Christianity. It contained the following:  Virgin birth, born in a stable or cave, visited by wise men bringing treasures, twelve disciples, last supper, died on a cross and was resurrected. Mithras Day was celebrated on December 25th. (Even though Jesus was NOT born on that day it is after all the day his birth is celebrated.)

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Attis of Phrygia was born of a virgin around the Winter Solstice. He was nailed to a tree for the salvation of mankind. He was buried around Eostre/Ostara but on the third priests found the tomb empty. His followers were baptized in blood to wash away their sins, after which they called themselves “born again”. Dionysus of Greece strikingly resembles this tale. On top of the above mentioned he was identified with the lamb and called “Only begotten son”, “Sin bearer” and “Redeemer”.

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Indian Krishna’s nativity was heralded by a star and he was born of the virgin Devaki. Krishna traveled widely, performing miracles such raising the dead, healing the sick and feeding the hungry. The crucified Krishna is pictured on the cross with arms extended. Pierced by an arrow while hanging on the cross, Krishna died, but descended into Hell from which He rose again on the third day and ascended into Heaven. Krishna is the second person of the Hindu trinity.

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At least one folk tale speaks of Balder having been conceived by Frigga magically/not by physical means.  Balder was the God of Light, Righteousness, bringer of a new era. Whether he was sacrificed or murdered is a matter of interpretation, but he, too, will come back from the Underworld to reign over a new world.

zarathustra2.jpg
(Zoroaster/Zarathustra)

The prophet Zoroaster was claimed to have been born of a virgin, as was Tibetan Indra, Baal of Phoenicia, Tammuz of Syria, Bali of Afghanistan, Esus of the Druids… I could list yet another dozen virginal births, but let’s keep it at these most obvious examples.

So, back to Pagans, often feminists, opposing everything to do with virgin births: The interpretation that no human woman can live up to the expectation of this kind of physical “purity” is mislead. These tales are less about physical purity or “sinful sexuality”. When I attended Christian Science services for a while they raised an interesting point. The Bible speaks of man having been created in the likeness of God. What is God? Spirit. No matter if in monotheism or polytheism Gods are known to be able to take shape or “manifest” but they are, ultimately, spirit/of the spiritual world.

dance3
The impregnation by “spirit” illustrates nicely mankinds spiritual heritage. Even in the case of human mothers the children of these virginal births were godly or (a) God, emphasizing the gnostic principle that if we are made in the  likeness of the divine and ARE like God(dess in essence, we are a part of the divine or basically the divine is in us as much as we are in it – one.
(Even Jesus claimed “I am in the father as the father is in me”, leading people to believe he was the “only begotten son of God” or “God in the flesh” instead of realizing that the same held true for them.)

If mankind lived by this principle, in the awareness that everyone is godly, including themselves, there would be no war, no murder, no fraud nor deception and no feeling of being better than anyone else. What war for monetary gain would be justified to be started if you knew what you are doing to another people will ultimately hurt yourself because you are all connected through the same source? (“Three times three”, “Do unto others…”, “golden rule”.)
While our human traits, talents, backgrounds all make us different individually and we are separated by different traditions and cultures (and hurray to that kind of diversity!), our spiritual traits all make us “the same” or equal. Virgin birth – basically a wonderfully comforting and liberating message of “As above, so below”.

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