Thoughts

Tides/Holidays of Þunresfolc Heorþ

No Way in the myriad of Heathen or Pagan Ways is complete without holidays, or tides. Þunresfolc Heorþ is no exception to this. This is but our First Year, and though I personally have some experience in Heathenship, as well as Paganism before it, I sought to critically examine the way I did things. Holidays weren’t something I put a lot of thought into. Though having someone with which to celebrate has been a great blessing, I believe that one who doesn’t can still have meaningful holiday celebrations.

Regardless, after a lot of thought, and using all of the influences I have in regards to practice, I have now a list of Holidays. Some are still in their planning stages, others have already started traditions that will be repeated in the future here. Sometimes things will work smoothly, and all aspects will be observed, and other times life happens.

In the spirit of the way we have named the months, we name the holidays in a more modern tongue. However, for the ones that have an old name, it will not be hard to find. Plenty of other folks already do that. That being said, though the timing of these holidays approximates either older ones from history, or contemporary Heathen and Pagan holidays, you will find that some of the names are those of my own creation. There are many influences in these holidays, as we do not live in a vacuum.

There are some that have more historical basis, and others are woven together from various historical concepts, into something new. If there’s anything you wish to borrow, feel free. After all, I don’t view myself as the owner of any of it, as the ideas came from many other people. This is how have put them together. So, not everything here has a historical basis. With that in mind, here is the current list of Tides at Þunresfolc Heorþ, along with descriptions and how we either do or plan, or just ideas to observe them.

The Tides of Þunresfolc Heorþ are as follows:

Yule– Here, the Yule season starts with Mother’s Night, which, for us is the night of the Winter Sunstead (solstice). A small meal is prepared to eat with the Old Mothers, the women of our ancestral lines. Another thing that I’ve added, is that I like to get my mother a gift on this night as well. The Old Mothers and living ones are remembered, and are given an offering on this night.

After Mother’s Night, the Yule season begins in earnest. Cattle are special animals to us, and are the centerpiece of all feasts due to this. So, a beef roast is prepared and enjoyed, and all the sides and trimmings. Sweets and gifts are exchanged as well. Lights are lit, seasonal incenses burned, and decorations are put up to capture this most special time of year.

Quickening– This holiday took a little more borrowing and weaving. There is, in Bede’s accounts the offering of cakes. Which we will do. Furthermore, as this is in wait for spring, and the, well, quickening of the Earth, they will be buried (an idea we got from the ‘Æcre Bót’ charm). However, offered to Thunor’s wife, whom we call Sibbe, that we relate to the growth and fruits of the Earth (mainly grain, but really anything that grows).

This is also the time that hibernating animals wake, and this day is not far from Groundhog Day in the United States. This is not lost on us, as we await what the groundhog tells us about the length of the remaining winter. Another theme is the coming of spring, and so, particularly to a home, it must be cleaned of all of the accumulated mess. So, it is our time for a “spring cleaning”. This involves the physical, as well as the sacred, and so it is a time for cleansing, purification, and getting things in order.

This was, in the past, a time for the Charming of the Plough. However, we don’t have a plough, or a farm at this time. Perhaps a thought for anyone who has farming equipment.

Eastretide– This happens on the full moon after the spring equinox, in Eastremonth (Ēastremonath). On this day, we give an offering to Eastre, the Dawn Maiden. We plan to do this at a local spring, and perhaps gather Holy Water. This is, of course, the time when the Earth again turns green, and the first flowers start to bloom.

We do not have a normal feast, but have developed, instead, a tradition of having an Eastre Breakfast (or brunch). Fitting, we believe for a day honoring the Dawn Maiden. This is another decorating holiday, in which I’d like to utilize bright colors to really capture the essence of the season.

Summer Nights (or Summerfull)– Another holiday that was made through more than a bit of weaving. I like to think this is the first time to have a good bonfire. To us, the theme is of liveliness, and the first days of summer. It’s not quite a feast day, but as it’s around the full Moon of Threemilk (Thrimilci), we’ve come up with the idea of appreciating cheese and milk this day. A major staple of our diets, and since this is when cows are milked three times a day, I think it’s a great way to enjoy that.

Otherwise, we enjoy the wonderful weather, and plan on establishing a Summer Hike, in lieu of a procession (hard to do with two people, and even if we had more, I’m not sure lookers on would understand why a few folks were parading about town). For those in places where May Day is celebrated, this would be in that frame of time, and those festivities would be more than appropriate! This is certainly a time to enjoy life, and the company of good folks as we welcome warm, long summer days.

Midsummer– On the days around the Summer Sunstead is Midsummer. I’d say a good cookout would be just as appropriate as a feast on this day. This is when we celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, and enjoy what summer has to offer.

In our lore, it marks the triumph of Thunor over the Hellwyrm. The world around us is resplendent in green, bounty, and beauty. If it weren’t for the fact that I prefer cloudy days over sunny ones, and didn’t despise hot days, it’d be my favorite time of year. Regardless, it’s my favorite holiday to celebrate. A fine time to eat well, and enjoy the weather. As far as the Year Wheel, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Loaftide– Of course, this is the time of the Grain Harvest. A major staple in the diets of almost everyone. On this tide, we bake a loaf for the gods. Namely Thunor, and his wife Sibbe. After all, in the North, her hair was said to resemble the golden fields of grains. So, honoring Her is a big part of the day for us.

We also bake a loaf to enjoy ourselves. After all, who doesn’t like a loaf of fresh, home baked bread? Though it lacks the trappings of some of the bigger holidays, I enjoy it. We celebrate it on the full Moon of Weedmonth (Weedmonth).

Harvest Tide– On the Harvest Moon, the full Moon after the Autumn Equinox, we celebrate the Harvest. For us, this is like what most folks would call Thanksgiving. Though we have a roast instead of turkey. (Great for me, as I don’t care for turkey.) At this time, we give part of our feast to the Gods (mainly Thunor, but Ingui is a popular choice for good reason). Of course, we also take time to relate the things for which we are thankful.

Apple dishes are a big part of Harvest for us, due to this being the time of the apple harvest in particular. Any holiday that allows for copious consumption of food and cider is a good one in my book. At this time, we prepare for winter, and take time to appreciate the fall weather, as well as the changing of the leaves and the crisp smell that comes with it.

Winter Nights (Winterfull)– The last holiday in the year for us is this one. It is a time that we give special honors to our Old Ones, ancestors. On this day, we share a feast for them. The theme of this time is death. We celebrate on the full Moon of Winterfull (Winterfylleth). This is of course, the beginning of winter.

This is seen as a time of magic (however that may apply to you), and in which the worlds of the living and dead are closest (this also apllies to Summer Nights, but at this time is more noticeable, likely given to the season). This part comes from Celtic influences (after all, I had been involved in Brythonic and Gaulish Polytheisms), and I truly do believe as well that the worlds are closer at this time.

These are the Tides of Þunresfolc Heorþ as they stand right now. There is also, and a specific of our brand of Thunor cult, a small celebration of the First Storm of the year. In which we welcome Thunor and his efforts against the Ettins of Winter. We simply light candles, and make a small offering to welcome his return.

From here, who knows how much may come to be added to these tides? These traditions will grow with us. I hope your traditions will grow with you and yours, too. I don’t own any of this, so, as I said, feel free to borrow from them if they suit. I have been blessed to learn of the great peoples of both the past, and my contemporaries who have forged strong and beautiful traditions. So, if I offer anything of use, the least I can do is share it.

It’s Only Gonna Take A Little Time

I sit here, petting the cat that has nested himself in my lap, and, at the moment this is being typed, contemplating the bad habit I have developed of staying up late into the wee hours of the morning. However, this is not the only thing on my mind. As I approach my 27th Birthday this Monday, I wonder what progress in life I have made, and the weight and worth of my decisions.

I try to take actions carefully, and with due deliberation. Sometimes I succeed at that. Sometimes I do not. I’ve made many bad choices, but I’ve made good ones, too. I am determined to wed my best decision. There are others on which a ring cannot be put.

There is another choice that I may as well be married to already. That would be my custom. Call it Heathen, Pagan, or whatever you will. It impacts everything I do. Everything I do has it in mind. It is that which is on my mind now, and so I wish to relate.

Looking back, a lot of my posts have been about identity. I even think to myself, “Here we go again…” The thing is, though, that it comes up so frequently because it is something that I, like many others, often struggle with. We live in a world with so many choices! This is of course, in my opinion, for the best. As those same choices led to many changes and innovations for the Old Ones, it only makes good sense that with even more, we too, may innovate. We do so much faster than they, as this is a more fast paced world. Those same choices led me to reject popular religion, and have brought me here today.

From the very start, I have set out to not be just another Heathen voice, nor just another Reconstructionist one. I don’t fit firmly into any camps, even when I agree, and I also have many opinions about recent and current affairs within Heathendom, Pagandom, and beyond. At first, I thought this was but a hangover of my more rebellious youth. I no longer think this to be the case.

I don’t say this to paint myself out to be some kind of “Heathen Hipster”. There are many who have their own minds, and I’ve been lucky to have the friendship and support of some of those voices along the way. I don’t do a very good job with definitive ideology. Nor have I done so well with piecing different elements of practice together. As far as the former, I’m glad for it, as there is a point where ideology no longer affirms belonging, but is instead a tool of oppression. To both ourselves, and others.

The latter however, disturbs me. Six years a Pagan normally means a solid, though incomplete picture. However, in truth, I’ve always been torn between Germanic, and Gaulish (buttressed by Brythonic) expressions of practice. I was the latter for two years, and have been the former for two and a half. Perhaps exclusivity and purity aren’t my thing. Furthermore, perhaps it is arrogant of me to even have this thought, of being torn between these cultures, which are full, beautiful, and great in their own right. They don’t need me to reconcile them. Nor do I wish to be a voice that implies such. Ever.

No, these great and wonderful cultures don’t need me at all. I don’t own any of them, nor am I some “enlightened outsider”. Nor would I own them, even if I could. Religions are not playthings, nor are cultural expressions. I am not an Anglo-Saxon (Angle, Saxon, Jute, Frisian, amongst others). I am not of the Nordic peoples (Icelandic, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Faroese, etc.). Nor am I of the Gaulish, or the Britons (or the Welsh, Cornish, or Bretons that came from them). I may come from many of these peoples, but I am not them.

What I am is someone who has been blessed enough to get to learn about the Old Ways of these great peoples. Along with other parts of their histories. I am, like pretty much anyone else, someone who has been inspired by my ancestors and contemporaries. This is reflected by the choice I made to become Heathen, to become Pagan. A choice many others out there have made. We often talk about “filling in gaps” from Polytheisms outside of the one we’ve chosen. However, to call it such is a disservice. I don’t interpret something in an Anglo-Saxon context. Instead, I am influenced by more peoples than just one. Just as my ancestors were. Just as the cultures and religions of said ancestors were. Therefore, though there may be large and small parts of my practice inspired by some of the peoples listed, I don’t belong to any of them, nor they to me. Though inspired by Old Ways, our Ways are all New. Just as new cultures were formed from old ones, as well as new religions. We continue that tradition, as do many of you.

In that sense, we create new identities. As time goes by, we will see the right and wrong of the choices we make. As even the Gods must wend their way to their Wyrd, and are not above Wyrd, we certainly are not either. As Wyrd wends, so does who we are.

Who am I? I’m not always sure about that. Maybe that picture will be clearer one of these days. What I do know, is that it’s going to take a little time.

 

 

 

 

Not So Wild After All

Recently there has been sort of a… movement? Or, at the least, a change in the previous status quo as to the forms of practice that have emerged recently in discussions. In other words, in the years and decades before us, there have emerged many successful kindreds, theods, and fellowships that, in some degree or another have made their way into the world. Heathen, or otherwise, Fyrnsidu, Forn Sed, Aldsido, and such. Some looking to build on the Old Ways, in whatever form got them their start. Others still have taken more liberties.

There have been such, and then there have been what some may describe as “loners”. Though, this isn’t in truth the case. Be it as it may that they may be the only person in their area, or the only with whom they are comfortable in sharing their Way, the Ways of nearby more established folks may not suit them, or some other reasons may come to mind. There is hardly a sure formula, or an answer that fits all. Less flatteringly, these folks may be said to be in “the Wild”.

It is that, that I find to be a disservice to those who are truly genuine, but for whatever reason, may practice alone. Though, if it needed saying, they’re never truly alone in practice. Unless one doesn’t count Old Ones, Wights, and Gods as beings. If so, they’re not folks who have any common practice with any of the aforementioned people, anyway. So, it doesn’t much matter. Regardless, these practitioners aren’t really people “of the Wilds”. No. Far from it, in truth.

No, they are not merely “solitaires”, either. They might be the only one of their kind that they personally know, and what of it? This doesn’t exclude them from being important people in the lives of those they care about, and who care about them. Some of them have taken to calling themselves “Frīfolc”, literal “free folk”. Or, as what else might be said, “Freeholders”. I use this distinction as well. This applies to many who call themselves Heathens. Many would-be Freeholders. Or, Freehold Heathens.

This is a way, in my opinion (if I need to qualify that what I write is in fact, my opinion and view) that positively affirms, as opposed to adding some tagging and qualifier as to being “without”. Many are not finding themselves “without”. They are not without frith. They are not without gifting to those around them, and to the recipients of their offerings. They are not without deeds. They are not without worth. It begs a fair question: What, in fact, then, are they?

I might be of some help with that, being one myself. To answer the question of what a Freeholder is as opposed to what they are not. As even in this very piece, I’ve answered and spoke in the negative. So, allow me to turn it around. What is a Freeholder?

– A Freeholder is unbeholden to the rules of people who do not have the best interest of themselves, or those close to them at heart.

– A Freeholder is one who believes and acts in accord with the knowledge they have sought in the best way that they can.

– A Freeholder sees the basis of interaction with the Other starting in the home. As the home, in times past, was something of a microcosm of the world, and as reflected in the home is the world, the reflection of the interaction of Man (general sense) and the Other is enacted on that microcosmic level, in said home. Though such interaction and understanding may extend beyond the home, it at the least starts there.

– A Freeholder is one that acts as a mediator for themselves and those in their lives to the Other.

– A Freeholder recognizes their place in that scheme, and must, with that knowledge, dutifully live up to that responsibility. They recognize that there are limits (can’t have a one person symbel, after all, amongst other things) but, in the spirit of those before them, in accord with the timeless ingenuity of the Old Ones, they make do with what they have. As opposed to bemoaning what they don’t have, they take what they do have and make it work.

– As in accord with the spirit of Reconstructionist methodology, for those who employ it, they enact that which they can within reason, based upon past knowledge. Though I may seek a foundation and frame from the past to construct the present and future, others may seek the walls and roof as well. With proper application, all will have shelter nonetheless. How good or bad that shelter is can only be known to its fullest extent by those who live within it. Like anyone else, they are continually finding their way.

The Freeholder lives in that which is the situation they have deemed worthy and working. Like anyone else, we make do with what we have to make the situation that is practice and living in accord with what might be dubbed “Heathen Worldview” work. It has been said that the Hearth practice is inviolable. I believe there is truth to that. After all, one has no right to come to another’s home and tell them how to practice. However, this does not mean that we do not have knowledge to share that may be of worth to others in a similar situation. There are voices currently not well represented in the currents of popular Heathen discourse.

It is time for those voices to be heard.

I am here, and I am proud of the traditions that I am building.

I am crafting the start of what I hope may resonate with others like me. There may be some who disagree, and who criticize, and that is okay. There is time, I hope, for our tradition to grow, and I am willing to give that tradition the time that it needs to grow.

I have a “tribe”, full of people who have proven their worth to me, and I to them. We engage in reciprocal deeds to one another, and it’s okay that they aren’t always like me. There is frith in our home, and warmth in our hearth.

I also exchange gifts with the Old Ones, Wights, and Gods. It is they who decide the worth of those gifts, and it is they who decide whether they are worth reciprocating.

I am proud.

I am whole.

I am free.

I am a Freeholder.

Furthermore…

I am not going anywhere.

So, it looks as though I am not in the Wilds after all.

Time at Þunresfolc Heorþ

Here at Þunresfolc Heorþ, the Old Ways of the peoples known collectively as the Anglo-Saxons are the first (though not nearly the only) source of inspiration for our Ways. If not for the fact that there is much about the Old Ways of the Anglo-Saxons that we either don’t know, or may be of great difficulty, or be impractical to reconstruct (I’d like to think that most of our lives are worth more than two or twelve hundred shillings), our own experiences of the world around us, and their impact, along with our own histories certainly play a major role in our Way. As it should for any, since we all live who we are every day. It is, at least, my own belief that our customs are inseparable from our identities, and thus encompass our whole selves.

With that being said, we do have knowledge of how the Anglo-Saxons kept time. At the least, in the sense of days, weeks, and months. Or, so far as those being things that can be discussed at a fair length. We will start with the days of the week. A refresher, though I doubt it is needed, the days of the week in Old English are as follows:

Sunnandæg
Mōnandæg
Tíwesdæg
Wodnesdæg
Thunresdæg
Frīgedæg
Sæturnesdæg

I doubt I have to tell any of you which days are which, or of whom they are named. Of course, we speak Modern English. Since the days of the week have only really changed with the language, I’m more than comfortable using the Modern English names for the days of the week. To note, we count each day to begin at sundown, as opposed to sunrise.

The lunar months that were used are also, in this case, written down by the monk Bede in ‘Di Temporum Ratione‘, or in English, ‘The Reckoning of Time’. Those months are as follows:

Ærra Géola
Æfterra Géola
Solmonath
Hrethmonath
Eostremonath
Thrimilci
Ærra Litha
Æfterra Litha
(Thrilitha, when an extra month was needed, every few years.)
Weodmonath
Haligmonath
Winterfylleth
Blotmonath

Easy enough. We use these months, and at least try to keep up a calendar. We used the old names on the first calendar we made, but I gave my own names for the months as well. These will be the months for our Year Two. A reminder that I am not a linguist. So someone who is may one day do this, and they will likely get different answers. I’m just a guy who looked at Old English words and came up with ways to fit them to his own speech.  Here they are:

Ere Yule
After Yule
Solmonth
Hrethmonth
Eastremonth
Threemilk
Ere Lithe
After Lithe
Third Lithe (when needed)
Weedmonth
Holymonth
Winterfull
Bloodmonth

Not exactly a huge difference, but again, I find these terms a bit smoother on the tongue. However, to each their own. “Ere” is archaic, but I like the way it fits, and comes from “Ærra” anyway. Personally, I don’t think it a big stretch to use these months to gloss the modern calendar, but I like the lunar calendar. Other than it being what the Anglo-Saxons, and many other ancient cultures used, it reminds me of that history when I look at the calendar we made. I only play a small part in putting the terms in a more casual tongue. I’m glad to be a part of that tradition. So, there you all have it. The days and months as reckoned by us here at Þunresfolc Heorþ! Thanks for reading.

 

A Few Things I Have Been Thinking About

As changes to the site have happened slowly, I am reminded of how I have changed as well. The way I look at things is much different than when I first started making articles. I stand by much of what I have already said, but the way I understand it has changed. When I started, I set upon myself the task of understanding Heathen worldview as best as I could. That has not changed. I don’t have years upon years, or decades of experience.

At first, one is inclined to see that as a hindrance. There is some truth to that. However, I have found myself learning from many folks who are new, just as I have those who have been in similar practices for many years. One might ask how that works. The answer is actually quite simple.

I don’t like to think of Heathendom as monolithic. It just isn’t. I’ve yet to be convinced otherwise. I would hope that I am right in this. However, we are grouped together in my eyes, by at least sharing the same interest in the Old Ways of Germanic peoples, and some beyond that. I have learned from folks with differing levels of experience, differing views on Reconstructionist methodology, and from some who aren’t Heathen (for lack of better words) at all. All have been of immense value to my learning, and continue to be.

In two and a half years, I have seen new faces arrive and contribute. I have seen different generations of practitioners, or better the schools of thought that come from those generations. I’ve seen some I looked up to fail to live up to my image of them. I’ve seen contemporaries dazzle with quality knowledge. I’ve watched some of those contemporaries grow and their own ideas evolve.

One of the greatest things I have seen is the rise of the Freehold Heathen. A newer school of thought that I wholeheartedly subscribe to, even if I like to pick on some of the founders by sniping at nuances! I am still glad to see it grow, and I hope to become a voice within it. It is the third generation of schools of thought that I have noted. Technically, the fourth, and there are more, but three have been prevalent to my own understanding. The distinctions made are my own.

The first being the school of thought led by Theodsmen and their associates. The second being the early adopters of the term Fyrnsidu. The third being the Freefolk, or the Freeholders. The first two have contributed much, and the third is bound to expand and go its own way. This is great because it gives more options, and more perspectives. In spite of my strong opinions about some individuals, it would be foolish not to see that each school of thought has brought something to the table. The worth of all of these ideas are left to those who learn from them.

Now, some may read this and think that they didn’t add something to that. Admittedly, I don’t think I have, much. However, speakers are only so because there are listeners. Regardless of how good or bad an idea is, that designation belongs to the listeners. We all have our views, and opinions on other views, but that worth is determined by those who hear these ideas, and agree or disagree with them. After all, one cannot give where there is no recipient. What excites me is that whomever contributes the next great idea could be reading this article right now. A new generation, burgeoning with its own ideas could be forming and no one yet knows. I welcome the day when such ideas are laid out for the world to see.

What I have learned in these past couple of years, is that it’s important to have an open enough mind to listen. I’d like to talk a little more about what I have learned so far.

One key thing I have learned is that it’s okay to be different. Echo chambers are not the source of new ideas. They’ll rehash old ideas until they run out of breath, but without permission from whomever started yelling, they will be slow to venture upon new ideas, and likely will rely on the originators to “green light” them. This may work for some people. After all, it can feel intimidating to do the research yourself and possibly come to a different conclusion. An echo chamber wants to hear the same words said back, after all.

For me, this doesn’t work. I find it better to talk about new ideas with folks I trust first. Such who understand that mistakes and misunderstandings happen. It may take time to find such people, however it is better that way. These should be people that don’t just try to tell you the ways it is, unless you’re off the deep end. Instead, those who will give you something to think about. These aren’t the types for echo chambers, but actually want you to truly understand.

This makes me feel sorry for those who don’t have this recourse, and go to a thousands strong group, only to be had like wolves upon a wounded doe. However, I assure anyone in that boat that there are good folks to talk to. Opinions aside, such folks are in all three of the “schools” I have mentioned. For all of the abrasiveness assigned to Heathens, and for every cynical, pompous jackass and cyber bully, and their sycophantic echo chambers, there is another who is willing to help you. I wish all well in finding them.

Regardless of excuses, unless the asker is themselves pushing something horrible (Neonazis and the like, or New Agers trying to sell you something), there isn’t a reason you should put up with ill treatment. If I am not in the mood to deal with a question, I step away. Better that than to sully my own reputation in being untoward for no good reason. That is a lesson, admittedly, that I don’t always remember. However, I’m working on it. It is why I’m not as active as I once was. I don’t want to be the one who shuts down a valid question, or slander a valid expression. We may not be obligated to be kind, but does that give us an excuse to be unnecessarily unkind?

This ties into a lesson I know, but as you can see by earlier sentiments expressed in this article, I sometimes have trouble with, and that is to stay positive. I intend to make more of an effort of maintaining a more positive online, (and general) presence. Folks who have done this have been a great help to me. Maybe one day, I can be that to someone else. After all, such interactions make all parties involved better.

Another thing I have learned is that no one can do it for you. Once I stopped looking to some folks that I found unsavory, it became all the more important to learn more myself. That can seem daunting to those with a busy life. I have had to work six days a week, in the past, seven. It doesn’t make going through academic tomes the first thing on the mind of the average person. However, work to scrounge up the change for a few ebooks. Save up for that print only one. Read maybe one chapter a day. It isn’t a race, after all! There aren’t any “Best Heathen” trophies as of yet. I also think time to let small pieces stew in the mind means better retention of knowledge.

With that said, as one builds up that knowledge, and comes to grips with it, it’s okay to shape your own understanding. Heathenship wasn’t monolithic in the past, just as it isn’t now. It’s okay to write your own myths, and make your own art to express what you know. It’s okay to be different. These are a few things I’ve been thinking about in my lengthy time away from articles. I hope maybe some of these words help anyone who is living like this. As our practice is an all encompassing lifeway.

World Making

First there was Nothingness. Not light, nor dark. Then, there was cold, and heat. The two came together and they burst! Fire and Ice, breaking apart, and coming back together. From this came the Mists.

The mists spun and churned. From this came two: Frumettin and Frumur. Frumur fed Frumettin, and Frumettin grew to be great and mighty. Then, he grew weary and slept. When he awoke, his first children were crawling upon him! They were the first of the Ettins.

Though Frumur did her best, she could not feed Frumettin as well as his children. He did not wish to understand this, and so he wanted to end her life, but could not. Frumur ended his first! Frumettin’s children were hence hated Frumettin. Though, they feared her as well. These were the first Ettins. So, they would eat from the flesh of their father, and Frumur would go back into the Mists.

In the misty depths, Frumur hid. For the Ettins looked bloodthirsty. Their tally had grown greatly in the time she was not among them. For Frumettin was so great and wide that his first children could feed from him for what looked like all time. Woe it would be for us today had it been Frumettin who had lived and not Frumur, had we been born at all.

Whilst hidden away, Frumur’s Mægen went forth from her breath. In this, a shape started to come together. Then fell a child, Frumur named him Tiw.  He would be the first of those we call the Gods. Then, from her womb came another child, this one would be named her Eorthe. From them, much more would come.

They fed from Frumur, hidden away. Until one day, they grew up. They would then seek a place amongst the Éotens, and make a life of their own. Though, this was not to be. The Ettins would not have them near. For they hated Frumur, and they would not allow her children a home amongst them. So, they went back to the Mists to their mother, who told them this:

“Son from breath, daughter from flesh. You are not as they are. You are not of one womb as they. Your children will not be as they, either. Long it will be before this shame of the Ettins is forgotten.”

Soon after, Tiw and Eorthe met body to body. From Eorthe came three Sons. The first born, is thought to be Woden, then Thunor, then Ingui. Each unlike his brothers. Woden was still, but crafty. Thunor was swift to anger, but lithe otherwise. Ingui was playful, and loved to be seen. They would grow to be great.

One day, these First Sons had grown. They, like their Mother and Father, sought to live upon the body of Frumettin. They too were not welcome. They fought, but there were too many. They went back to the Mists. Frumur told them this:

“Take fully apart my body. Flesh from bone. Make your homes upon me, and put upon your Mother what is left.”

The First Sons did not want to do this, but there was no other way, lest the live in the Mists for all time. Thunor took care that she did not feel what was coming. He struck the back of her head, so that she could feel nothing. Woden then choked her, and Ingui wielded a sharpened stone to carve her open.

From this, there was a great flood. Many Ettins drowned in it, and Frumettin’s body was lost beneath it. The First Sons took the flesh of Frumur, and made worlds from it. Night fled from her flesh first, bearing her son Day. They gave her hide to their Mother. With Frumur’s flesh, they made land. With her blood, in the great flood, came the seas. Lakes and streams were made from her milk. Of her skin hair came the grasses and trees of green.

Of her bones came the stone hills, and of her teeth, standing stones. From her eyes came Sunne and her kin, the Stars. From the teardrop in her eye came Mona. Of Frumur’s skull came the heavens, to hold all where it needed to be. Thunor took Frumur’s backbone, and held it up until it could stand alone, we now call it Irminsul. Of the work of the First Sons, they were glad.

From the sea did that which crawls under it come, and then fish were born, some were led to land, and became frogs, toads, and the like. Some kept their hard skinhouse, and were the snakes and the like with legs. Then came those with hairs on their hides.

From the flesh of Frumur, more still came to life. Dwarves came from the Ettins that hid under Frumur’s flesh in the flood. In that time, they became shorter and stayed in the low steads, close to Eorthe, where they thought they would not drown if it would flood another time. Many Ettins who hid in the hair of Frumur’s hide became Elves. They would in time come to the stone hills and the sea, for they were craftier than Ettins.

From Eorthe came many more children, though not like the First Sons. One such child was called Twofolded. This child grew and made his own children, from himself. They walked upon two legs, though not in mind were they like the First Sons. They were somewhat dim. They were like Woses, and then Woodwoses, too, were born from him. They would be of greater and greater mind as they were born, and then one day, from his legs were born Mann and Wife, from right leg, and from left. With that, Twofolded bled and died. All of Frumur’s children wept at his passing. It would be that the children of Twofolded would share this end.

From under the Irminsul, at the waters that fed it, the Wyrd Weavers spoke the First Laws. So it was that The Wyrd of the children of Twofolded, and all thereafter, would live and then die as their threads were spun by the Wyrd Weavers. It was that they had a power stronger than that of the First sons, or any before them. All must answer to their Wyrd.

 Mann and Wife were unlike anything else that had been born before. They, in shape were like Gods, but were not Gods at all. As they grew, they were glad in what the First Sons had made, in what Tiw and Eorthe begat. They were glad with it all. The First Sons were glad to see this. Each of the three gave gifts to Mann and Wife.

Woden gave first. He spoke spells of knowledge so that they could learn all that they would need to know, and the thirst to learn more. He have them madness, so they would fight when they had the need. Ingui gave the gift of Will. That they would have the will to make children of their own. That they would seek the wealth of the world so that they could live good lives. Thunor made empty the fields and dales, so that they would have somewhere to live. He taught them how to call upon him if they had need. He hallowed them both, giving speed to Men, in a world they shared with many others.

With that, Mann and Wife went on their way. Their children were many, and in time, they went to every land that would hold them in Midyard. In thanks, they reared a bull, and when it grew, they gave it to the First Sons. They made the first offering. The Gods gave, and Man gave back. This would begin what still goes to this day.

After this, the First Sons went their own ways. Woden spoke first, “I go now, my own way, brothers. There is much in these worlds I do not yet know, and I will know all that I can. That I too may be known for it.” The other two gave speed to Woden. Ingui then spoke, “I go now, brother. For there is much wealth in the worlds that I would make mine. That I may give gladness to those who seek it, and share their wealth with me.” He went East, and Thunor gave him speed.

Thunor looked around himself. He watched the First Men, and was glad. He went high up so that he could watch over them. “This is where I shall make my home.”

My #HeathenHallJoy Story

I had, roughly a couple of weeks ago, come across something new that was going around the Heathen Internet. I’ve seen some folks using it, and I’ll wager some of you have as well. One of those hashtag things I never quite caught on about.  It’s called #HeathenHallJoy. As usual, I’m late to the party, and well out of the loop. I hadn’t posted any statuses on social media with it. The reason why is that when searching for positivity in my life as a Heathen, or Heathendom in general, was at first because I was so caught onto the negative side of things. It is no secret that just about any online gathering of just about anyone is bound to have conflict. Sometimes it is vigorous, intelligent debate. Other times, it is callous bullying. When it comes to the latter, it doesn’t really get anyone anywhere.

All it ultimately does is create animosity where there didn’t need to be any. We don’t all have to get along. We don’t all have to like each other. However, I myself was regrettably caught up in that game after so long of swearing away from it. Sometimes I see someone, or some people say things I don’t like, or feel is wrong, and I just feel like I have to jump in. It achieves nothing. Heels just get dug in deeper.

Regardless, it took me back to a time when I was just starting out, fresh off of Gaulish Paganism. Finding my practices being based more and more off of Germanic ideas, I had finally decided to make that leap. Being a couple of years younger, about twenty four, I still felt I had something to prove. Of course, this is common with people in their early twenties. I was right about having something to prove, but wrong about to whom I had to prove it.

I found people very advanced in knowledge, and at the time, I didn’t feel worthy of approaching them. They were smart people, and they knew it. They had no issue with letting everyone around them know that fact. I thought that this is what you needed to be. It brought to mind the idea of the Germanic “war band” attitiude. These were the people who wanted to emulate that mentality, though more reasonably adapted to the modern day. However, I didn’t talk to them. I’d watched them tear people apart, after all. Who wanted that kind of embarrassment? I didn’t. So, I conformed to a way that those folks would have likely approved of, however, I didn’t dare ask. Nor would I lower myself to people whose character was unknown. After all, anyone can read books and learn something. Even then, I knew I wanted to learn from people who were at least friendly.

I found those people. It was like setting foot on fresh grass after a long winter. These folks kept me at an appropriate distance, but at least seemed approachable. They were welcoming and friendly. Affording me the best an outsider should expect. They didn’t “bro” me, but they didn’t put on airs either. They were straight shooters and honest. If I made sense, they’d say so. If I did not, they were able to correct me without dehumanizing me. Admittedly, though, the first group of people were in the back of my mind.

For some reason, I didn’t want to think anything about practicing Heathenry that would disappoint them. Can you imagine that? I wanted, briefly, to be worthy of people who would never accept me because even if I could learn as they did, I couldn’t look down on people for no good reason. One who is unproven doesn’t need to be greeted with a smile, but they don’t need to be greeted with a scowl, either.

Still, it took a long time to shake that influence off of me, but I finally did. Once I did, I found that I was somewhat different from the latter group of people. However, that didn’t change much of anything. I am still friends with some of them today. This was my warmer welcome to Heathenry. They were the first people to hear my silly ideas, and helped me round them out to make sense. Though we don’t always see eye to eye, their willingness to share their knowledge has made an impact beyond measure. This was my first, as far as meeting other Heathens, #HeathenHallJoy.

The second came from starting to grasp and understand worldview. Learning from other people taught me more, if I am to be honest, than books did. The books helped me see where these folks learned it, but real life examples, and reading through stories often was, and still remains, in my opinion, the superior choice if one can grasp the poetic understanding of the world that the Elder Heathens had. Though my practices are rooted in Anglo-Saxon Heathnendom, Fyrnsidu to be specific, I very much enjoy Norse stories, as much as I do Old English ones, and when more experienced people broke them down for me (both Norse and English stories), I learned the most that way.  When folks more experienced than I broke these stories down, I learned that they weren’t as often about the chest thumping that Viking wannabes seem to get when they read stories.

In time, I would read again these stories and understand them better. Learning through stories, and reading history books have been two of my favorite things since I was old enough to read them. Though some were incredibly dry and boring, the learning was always worth it, and still is. Reading and talking, learning that these weren’t just relics of a bygone age, but that there are many real remnants of these traits in many of us. Including elements of our own society, particularly on the familial and local level. Christianity did erase some things, but mostly, it just diluted them.

I’m not the only one who was raised to value ones mate, family, and close friends above others. Nor am I the only one who was raised to judge people by their deeds. I wasn’t the only person raised to put pride in their name, and to defend it. I wasn’t the only person who was taught that I should pick my company carefully, because I would be associated with what they did.

The irony of hindsight, that pouring through books taught me that my mother taught me the basic, interpersonal parts of Heathenry. All I needed to learn, in that hindsight was ritual, lore, demarcation of sacred vs profane, and worship. The realization of this, since we’ll take into account the two to two and a half years that I have been Heathen, instead of the span of my life makes the second of these a no brainer. Reading great books, and learning to appreciate my upbringing has to be the second #HeathenHallJoy.

The third I will share with you is the reason I keep going. I have learned a lot of life lessons in this pivotal time of my life. It was when I found another with whom to share this hearth, that put me in the position where in order to be a better person, I had to really learn these lessons cannot be understated. At this point, I had to learn that my actions could truly affect another. After all, who would have to deal with me if I got annoyed in an online argument?

However, it is that I see just how much better my life is with her in it that I facepalm at the thought of stupid feuds with strangers behind a screen. Does it matter if they know more than me, or vice versa? Who is giving out “Best Heathen” medals? If negativity is what spawns me to learn, I am learning the wrong way, I believe. It isn’t though. If I am in a group and just end up arguing, I’m in the wrong group. Online arguments rarely make anyone a better Heathen, or anything but more of an asshole, from what I have seen. The world has enough assholes, though, does it not?

This isn’t a lesson I would have cared to learn if not for sharing a hearth. If not for finding the love of my life. Someone who not only has tolerated my practices, but has shared them, and has even had a hand in shaping them. That has been the biggest difference maker. Thanks to her, and the care I must put in my words because when I speak, it is a voice of not only myself, but of Þunresfolc Heorþ, I have learned that it is the positives I should look for, not the negative. Highlighting negative things is a survival trait. However, online interactions aren’t typically life or death. Fight (well, argue) when you must, but otherwise, there’s no reason to stick around toxic places. I have finally learned that. There are toxic people who like to play games, and that’s okay. Let them play by themselves.

Almost anyone with a little time around other Heathens has a gripe or two about Heathenry. Nothing’s perfect after all. However, seeing as how I’ve managed to establish my hearth, cultivate experiences, practice with sincerity and integrity, embrace an identity that it provides, I’m willing to be patient and see if Þunresfolc Heorþ grows to be more than just a hearth. Whether it does, or not, I have been granted much more than I had expected out of life. I never thought a simple laborer with a hearth practice and Thunor cult could be given such a good life. So, my third #HeathenHallJoy is finding the other and better half of Þunresfolc Heorþ, and watching it grow to become something that doesn’t just fit a small convenient label. It is who I am.

Though, with all of this joy going around, and my gratitude, the last #HeathenHallJoy of mine, is that you took the time to read this. So, in spite of my usual lateness: What is your #HeathenhallJoy?

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts on Reconstructionist Methodology

I’d like to wax a little on Reconstructionism, and where I feel I stand within it. It’s a methodology that is familiar with anyone who has been involved with Polytheistic revivals. Reconstructionism relies on historical and archaeological record, as well as the theories of scholars in order to get a feel of how Elder Heathens and Pagans practiced, what they believed, and their general worldview. All of which are, regardless of how often one employs Reconstructionist methodology, still used nonetheless. That knowledge is where even the least Reconstructionist oriented person gets an idea of what to practice. Whether or not they choose to use it is on them.

Still, Polytheistic Reconstructionist methodology is relatively modern, as well as historically unprecedented. This may be its greatest irony. However, this is something I am a part of as well. I couldn’t say anything against Reconstructionist methodology without saying something against a part of myself. However, I don’t see these types of terms as absolute. I see Reconstructionism as a tool, and only a tool, and at that, a range in a spectrum of approaches to practice.

So, to me, it has always been a tool in the creation of the expression of my own understanding. With said understanding informing both practice and belief. That which it is for likely anyone else. Not that I think that such a statement makes me remarkable. I don’t know how many people have said these things already, and definitely no idea if implication is involved. Anyone who has had a conversation with me online knows that I am terrible with implications. With that being said, I may be saying what other folks are already thinking, but I haven’t heard it.

Why we look back to these older cultures fascinates me, partly because, as I noted a moment ago, the revival of Pagan customs is unprecedented. Nothing like this has existed in history. There aren’t a lot of accounts of anyone saying, “You know how people thought, and what their customs were, like fifteen hundred years ago? Let’s see how much of that we want to revive.” Yet, here we are. For me, there are many reasons as to why I have looked back to move forward.

The first being that I simply don’t fit in well with the over culture. I, like anyone living in the modern Western world know enough about it, but I don’t understand it. If I did, I don’t think there’d be a good reason to Reconstruct a fifth century worldview. It isn’t that I hate the over culture, or want to “rebel”. I simply don’t feel very in touch with it.

There’s some technology that I don’t trust, but for the most part, I’m not against it. In fact, I think the Internet is one of the best things ever invented. However, the attitudes and morals of the over culture simply do not resonate with me. So, naturally, I looked elsewhere to find a meaningful understanding of the world. Though there are of course, good things about the over culture, I’d be a liar if said that I didn’t see it as mostly something I have to put up with.

For that, I eventually found Fyrnsidu. Though, other cultures than those called Anglo-Saxon (a term the pre Christian Old English speakers would not have recognized) have been an influence on my practice. Mostly other Germanic language speaking and Celtic language speaking peoples. There are slighter influences from other Indo-European peoples beyond that, but less so. It’s only fair to note these influences when we must “fill in gaps” of understanding in practice. Thus, to be fair, those influences should be noted now and again. As the notion of a cultural “purity” is one that only exists in the minds of either those isolated by remoteness, or by fools. The practice here is made by making sense of the tools of understanding those in the past gives us.

Taking these older cultures, Reconstructionists are in turn, creating new ones in a way. Local and regional adaptations to practices are being made. We’re aren’t making one Heathen religion. Nor should we. However, I don’t have to tell you all that. As those interested in building customs from older ones communicate and cross pollinate, and different ideas are shared, the blue million customs that will come from it are an inevitability.

Since we all came to this by choice, we have to decide, each of us, our parameters in our processes. There will inevitably be some who try to push practices one way or another. Though this is not always a bad thing, our different backgrounds and experiences will naturally bring us to variations and differing conclusions.

Once worldview is understood (those who do not have even a mediocre grasp of worldview are not those I consider having a practice anything like mine, so they would be considered something else to me) sufficiently, study and time makes everything else fall into place.

What I speak of is how things have worked for me. It has been a wonderful wayfaring, and every time I think I have things figured out, I realize that I still have a lot to learn. These have been my thoughts on the state of practice. More is sure to come.

The Worlds According to Þunresfolc Heorþ

Introduction

When we look at the subject of cosmologies, we are found wanting with respect to our Old English ancestors. How many worlds did they know? So, as it were, it often falls upon us to look at other Indo-European cosmologies, in order to try to make sense of the worlds. However, when we do this, we need to be sure to ask ourselves, “Does this make sense?” It is not enough to merely “copy and paste” the beliefs of other Indo-European peoples onto our own. We must believe this, too. We must understand it, as well as know it! With that being said, let us take a brief look at what we have to work with.

The Anglo-Saxons

Of course, it makes sense to start with the people who practiced the customs that have inspired us, right? We, unfortunately, don’t have much. Not much was written in the old Futhorc, and literacy wasn’t a big “to do” until the conversion to Christianity. Not that I think that made them less intelligent, because that means you had to be able to absorb more information by memory. This was of course, done orally. Knowledge was spread by word of mouth. You had to learn and remember, since you didn’t have a book around to look stuff up.

That being said, a bit here and there survived conversion and some folks wrote a bit of the old knowledge down. Albeit unintentionally, (Just ask the spirit of Bede! I wonder what he’d think of the Heathen calendars some of us have been making thanks to him…) these Christian boys may well have left us some hints and clues about the Old Ways. One such instance is the ‘Nine Herbs Charm’. In it, while trying to rid the poor victim of “Flying Venom”, caused by elven spears, the charm mentions seven worlds, in line 39:

In Old English:

“(Ƿoden) sette and sænde, on seofon worulde”

In Modern English:

“He (Woden) brought (them) and sent (them) into the seven worlds”

            Seven worlds? No one can say for sure what that means. Some would say that it’s the planets, as perceived by ancient peoples, who counted the Sun and Moon amongst them. That gives us the Sun, Mercury, Venus, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. It numbers seven, and so that is a fair guess. However, here’s the catch to that: The planets, amongst the people we know of to have named the planets, as far as the Indo-Europeans are concerned, the Greeks and Romans, who, in turn, got the idea from Babylonians, before that, Sumerians, named the planets after some of their gods. Another problem with that is that, according to ‘The Laws of King Cnut’, in its section on “Heathenism” (obviously translated) states this:

We earnestly forbid every heathenism: heathenism is, that men worship idols; that is, that they worship heathen gods, and the sun or the moon, fire or rivers, water-wells or stones, or forest trees of any kind; or love witchcraft, or promote morth-work in any wise.

In other words, what I’m trying to say is that the only sources for planet namings that we have come to us from the Near East, through the Greeks and Romans. Other than the Sun and Moon, the planets, from the naked eye, look like stars. Though the Sun is obviously a star as well, it is, of course, the only one that looks like something other than a small glimmer in the sky. Though I believe the Anglo-Saxons knew there was a difference between stars and planets, by their movement, most likely, I’m not convinced that these are the seven worlds the Nine Herbs Charm was talking about. Thus, we are looking at seven worlds, seven realms. In some way. Let’s see what we get from looking at other Indo-European peoples.

Ancient Greeks

Here, we have more details. The highest realm, Mount Olympus, abode of the Greek gods, of course, the Earth, and the Underworld, ruled by the god Hades. Though, if you look at the Underworld, many destinations are given as possibilities. Some of which are hard to imagine as under the Earth, such as Elysium. However, three key points are: An above world, Olympus. Then there is world in which we live, of course. Lastly, the Underworld, with its different places within, practically differing realms, themselves.

However, we’re actually looking at, not counting the division of the Underworld, at four realms, and not three. The first being the heavens, which are, of course, the top of Olympus, and abode to the Olympian gods. Second, the seas, which are, of course the domain of Poseidon. Third, the Underworld, the domain of Hades. Lastly, the Earth, which is affected, and connected to all three in some way. In this case, I’d like to refer to Emily Lyle’s view, which is found in her book ‘Ten Gods: A New Approach to Defining the Mythological Structures of the Indo-Europeans’, where she discusses this at greater length. I don’t really see this as much of an opposition to Dumezil’s tripartite mindset, but more of a supplement and further breakdown. (I know that it’s kind of expensive, the book, but the PDF that references it in this discussion, thus giving the necessary info is titled ‘On Indo-European Cosmic Structure’ by John Shaw, and it’s free.)

Norse

The Norse cosmological view has fallen out of favor with some Anglo-Saxon Heathens, but, is there good reason for this? Or, better asked: Are other Indo-European cosmologies, and other Indo-European answers to questions always, or even often better than what we know of the Norse? Could we really say that, looking at the time span between the conversions of the English and the Scandinavians, that the English in their Heathenship was any closer to the Greeks, Romans, or Vedic peoples than people who were closer in language and culture? I do not think that is the case.

However, the belief that language and a bit of time is all that separated them is a nonsensical answer as well. So, we should look to Norse sources in a fashion that employs common sense, and filling in gaps, as opposed to a wholesale copying of their lore. Filling in gaps is fine, and I’m honestly in the middle when it comes to those more eager to shy away from Norse sources, and those who very eagerly embrace them.

Looking at the cosmologic structure offered by our Norse friends, it is often said they thought of nine realms, as opposed to three, four, or seven. Though, to be fair, the most listed at once is six worlds/realms, as opposed to nine, which is done in the Alvíssmál. In this case, the synopsis of the worlds listed are Midgard, Asgard, Alfheim, Vanaheim, Jötunheim, and Helheim.  In other tales Niflheim, Muspellheim, and Svartalfheim are added, making nine. That’s quite a lot, and only later Hindu cosmologies add more than that. However, it is my opinion that these needn’t be taken literally, and there may not have been a reason for them to have been in the first place. However, it is not a question for me to answer, and is a subject for Norse Heathens to discuss.

Making A Working Model

So, after our brief little exploration there, you might be wondering how a working model might go. After all, we aren’t the only folks that have an idea of how this might be done. In fact, this isn’t even the dominant model in Fyrnsidu. So, out of respect for them, this comes from the custom of Þunresfolc Heorþ. This is a product of study, and intuition. I am making an effort to consider both equally. If we look at all three sources, there is a little that can be pulled from each. We get the number seven from the ‘Nine Herbs Charm’. It is possible to make sense of seven worlds if it is kept in mind that they aren’t quite separate like literal planets, they often overlap and could, in some cases, be thought of as lands, in a sense. The Old English language does give us a wealth of words to use to describe these places. Old English “ham” is said to not quite be cognate to Old Norse “-heim”, this being potentially the case if “-ham” doesn’t mean “world”. I’m not quite convinced that it does.

If that is not the case, then what suffix can be used? I’m going to, in those particular words, use something more simple, like “land” which is more open ended and vague. Some of these “worlds” overlap, and it seems to paint a better picture to use “lands”, which will be more fluid. So, for a more refined Þunresfoc Heorþ cosmology, along with an “axis mundi” that goes well with it, so here goes… (In parentheses are the names that I use in speech, since I do not speak Old English.)

Eormensyl (World Tree, Great Pillar, Thunor’s Pillar, Thunor’s Gift, Might of World Law)

The great pillar, borrowed in name from Old Saxon “Irminsul”. Whether it’s perceived as a pillar or a tree is of little consequence, there are Germanic, as well as other Indo-European sources that could go either way. Personally, I’ve always been fond of perceiving Eormensyl as a tree. Donar’s Oak from the Old Saxons, and the old name of a place in Essex, Thurstable, in Old English, “Thunrestapol” meaning “Thunor’s Pillar”. This fits neatly with Thunor cult (wink), however, the interpretation of this pillar is likely something that varied from tribe to tribe, region to region.

From the Mists

Mist, of course, forms when heated droplets of water rapidly cool. Elementary science, right? So, I actually have to give credit to that part of the Norse creation myth. I think in literal formation, the fire and ice motif work really well. Where I differ from the Eddic interpretation, is that I don’t think that this equates to two whole realms. I think this combination represents a type of creation, and are present throughout the worlds, thus they could not be contained in mere realms, they are just too big. Their product, steam, mist, however, might be more easily seen. As it is harder to see heat or cold. From the mists spring life, and perhaps the worlds.

Mistgin (The Great Mists, World’s Mist, Frumur’s Ghost, Endless Mists)

Mist has the obvious hazy appeal to it that is reflective of the uncertainty of origins. This primal mist is at the bottom of Eormensyl. So, we have what holds the realms, and what may have made them. Let’s learn about the realms, lands, worlds themselves. The term I have given this place is ‘Mistgin’. This comes from the word ‘mist’, of course, and the Old English word ‘gin’, meaning ‘expanse’. The expanse of mists. From here is the essence of origin/ It could be likened to a nebula, which form stars.

Underworld (Hell)

Easy enough, the word Hell has existed in Germanic tongues since well before English or Christianity. It is likely a resting place for the dead, or at least one of them. It is, of course, under the Earth, Middangeard, and would be known for being dark and damp, most likely, as the underground normally is. Though such a place seems ideal in many cases for a place of rest. I’m not sure about reincarnation, but if that is something that happens to people, this would be the place for it to happen. The word “Hell” comes from words meaning “to cover or conceal”. In this instance, it’s pretty clear that burying the dead conceals them. An argument for a womb in which life springs, or is reborn is a case that could be made, even though I am not interested in making it.

Wyrmsele is a part of this as well. This is one that often gets neglected, and I think that is unfortunate. Those who Hell rejects, be it Hellgods, or simply Hell’s residents, may find themselves cast out here. If there are outlaws in life, I do not see why particularly bad people would be accepted into the company of everyone else. This is where the Helldraca from the Þunresfolc myth ‘Thunor and the Helldraca’ lives. So, be it a reasonable historic base, or a naïve hope for justice for those who do terrible things, Wyrmsele is at the roots of Eormensyl.

Middle Realm 

That which exists between the Upper and Lower Realms is clearly the Middle Realm. Here is where man lives, and the beings of the living world are. Be they Man, Beast, Elf, Thyrse, or Éoten. The Middle Realm is acted upon by the Upper and Lower Realms. It is influenced by both.

Éotengeard (Ettins Yard, Ettin Lands)

Éotengeard and Útangeard sound close for good reason, they’re relatively close in nature, and the Éotengeard is certainly, without a doubt, Útangeard. This is where Éotens dwell in numbers. The places where man either cannot, or often do not live. Volcanoes, glaciers, great deserts, all hold powerful Éotens. These are all places that Éotens rule. These are forces kept at bay by the gods. A literal world of its own? Maybe not. For all intents and purposes, however, it practically is.

Ælflands (Elflands)

The places that are Ælflands are those places that are not quite places we live, but places we are often near, or may pass through. The woods is a great example, elves can also be found in the sea, and mountains. It is also said that they are found near burial mounds, and could even be spirits of the dead. We may traverse or hike in woods, we may sail on the sea, go through a mountain pass, or visit a burial mound. However, these are not places most people would choose to live. These places can be dangerous, just like elves, but are navigable if you are careful. These environments all reflect the nature of Elves, and so it is this that leads me to believe that they live there.

Middangeard (Midyard, the World)

This is the center of the worlds for us. The safety (supposed to be) of our tribe, kin, and society. This is where man lives, and is affected, because of its central location, possibly, by almost all of the other realms. It is our home. Towns, villages, cities, and probably the countryside where man has control over the land. Where man lives and truly reigns, it is Middangeard.

Above World (Heofon, Heaven)

The Upper Realm, Heofon, like Hell, is a word that is older than English and Christianity (So let’s take them back, eh?) and can be traced back to Proto Germanic. This is, generally speaking, the home of the high gods. Home of the celestial, as opposed to the chthonic. Birthplace of law and sacred. This is the place of the not only the gods, but perhaps of some dead.

Neorxnawang (Heavenfields, High Rest)

This one is looked at a little controversially, admittedly. However, Neorxnawang, the “Heavenly Meadow” or “Land of No Work” is not at all a foreign concept to Indo-European peoples. It is seen in Greek mythology in the Elysian Fields. It is also mentioned in the accounts of Ibn Fadlan on his visit in the lands of the Rus Vikings. Mag Mell, “land of delight” is found in Irish lore. I’m not sure if, like Elysium, there is a metric of deeds that must be seen as worthy to get in, and I’m not much interested in speculating on that matter. Considering that there were two different methods for treating the dead, burial and cremation, it is but a guess of mine that whether or not someone rests in Heofon or Hell, could be based on how their body was treated after death. As Stephen Pollington puts it in ‘Elder Gods: The Otherworld of Early England’ (page 446, first couple of sentences in the section ‘Ancestors in the Earth’)

“The two places for the dead were the horizontal – the inhumed in their graves – and the vertical – the cremated who escape the material world through funeral fire. This corresponds to the two views of the afterlife: either a journey to another plane, or a sleep in the earth.”

Ésageard (Ese Yard, High Gods’ Home)

Though I honestly perceive this to be more a matter of multiples than a single place, much as many different cities make up Middangeard, this is where the high gods live. From here, they may make their way down Eormensyl, and some wage war on Éotens, they may be out searching for knowledge, wandering, or who knows what! They’re gods, so they go and do as they choose, with whatever limitations they have. Here, the gods live in their respective dwellings amongst the company they choose, whom, or whatever they may be. Basically, the celestial gods dwell here.

Conclusion

The seven worlds: Hell, Wyrmsele, Éotengeard, Ælflands, Middangeard, Neorxnawang, Ésageard (Ésaburhs)

Seven worlds are spoken of in the ‘Nine Herbs Charm’, and this is what I believe those seven worlds to be. At the most base level, three realms are present. This also doesn’t quite touch on liminal spaces, such as the seas. These are, in my opinion, bridges, of a type between worlds, in the cosmological sense. Oceans lead to, and are likely part of the Underworld, themselves. Admittedly, I live in a landlocked area, and so those of you who live by the sea might have other and better answers. Lakes and rivers are easily seen as between Middangeard and Hell, at least to me. In this, I did my best to paint this out in a way that makes sense to me. It is the worlds as I understand them.

There’s no way for us to completely know these answers. However, customs and myths, at least partially exist to explain these things to us. So, I’ve taken a look at my past understanding of cosmology, and modified where appropriate. If any of it is of use to the reader, feel free to use it. This came from a combination of research and reflection, culminating in understanding. It is that, which is what I believe to be the way it should be. Thank you for reading.

 

Halfway Through Year One

Summer is coming to Þunresfolc  Heorþ. It’s always a great pleasure to see leaves on the trees again, and comfortable weather. As everything seems to be more lively, it would appear that things are more busy as well. I’ve spent much of the time trying to quit smoking, which has made it hard to focus on anything else. Regardless, here I am. We’re a bit over halfway through the year, and around seven or eight months in as a functioning hearth.

I started Þunresfolc  Heorþ with about a year and a half of Heathen experience, three and a half years of experience as a Polytheist, and about five years in Paganism altogether. Suffice to say that I have learned more in these seven months than I had in all of the time before. The way I learned is different however. At this point, I have been learning by doing. Not by reading, not by watching. I keep my books close by, of course. I try to remember everything I read in them, though I know that isn’t possible. However, once I learned the basics, things started making sense.

To be honest, I don’t know how everyone else expresses what they’ve learned. Nor do I know how they retain what seems like so much of what they read. However, I keep moving on, and that is all one can really do. Heathenry itself seems to be doing the same. The rise in prominence of the hearth cult being one of the biggest examples. I think it is high time that a way of doing is worked out for what seems to be a majority of Heathens who do not have a group that fits well with them to practice. That such people are not caving into pressure otherwise is respectable and shows signs of maturing in the many different faces of Heathenry.

Though, watching the directions of the Heathen world can be a little overwhelming at times from this little hearth, but onward we go. That being said, it’s the little things that have really challenged me. One example is keeping track of a lunar calendar. It’s one of those things you read about, but for me, it has been pretty difficult to do. To be honest, I used to not notice the Moon much, less so truly try to keep time by him. I’d like to tell you that I went from perfect forms of Paganism in the past to being a perfect Heathen, but I know better. Keeping up with a lunar calendar is a weakness of mine. However, I have progressed. We were making sheets month by month, and I’m just glad that we caught that there will be thirteen moons this year. So, we almost have the whole years’ made out.

In this first part of the year, we devised the tides we have chosen to observe, numbered at four (Géol, Ēastretīd, Midsumor, and Harfæst), but I believe we will end up with more than that as time goes by. What I also wonder is if I should tone down on the Old English usage a little. In the sense that it wouldn’t have killed me to type Yule, Eastertide, Midsummer, and Harvest instead, after all that is how I actually speak. This has been another challenge I have been working on. To be honest, I don’t have a good answer for whether or not to do so. Is it more genuine to just type Thunor’s Folk Hearth, or Thunresfolc Hearth? This has been a question I have wrestled with recently.

In spite of these challenges and quandaries, when Cyndre and I light those candles after our ritual cleansing, and that deep breath is taken before those first words are spoken, all of the little nagging questions seem to melt away. At that point, who I disagreed with online, or vice versa, or what this person or that person said, or what I think of this and that person’s practice, or they mine, suddenly doesn’t matter. The connection that comes from ritual, when I speak and hope my ancestors listen, it doesn’t matter which ones were from Berkshire or Kentucky, Heathen, Christian, or whatever. What matters is that I am recognizing, and paying tribute to the connection I share with them.

Recognition and understanding is what matters most at that point. Knowing your place in the great scheme of things. Realizing that thousands of people, and a near infinite amount of decisions big and small are the reason I can type this, and you are reading this. It is at that point that I realize that my actions, like theirs, may have far reaching consequences. That my decisions affect those close to me in more ways than I know. My Innangeard is affected by what I do.

When I make that offering to the House Wight, it doesn’t matter that some think that doesn’t apply to apartments, or whether or not people think a place such as a home has a spirit or not. What matters is that without my home, I am… well… homeless. Exposed to the elements. Lacking in the possibility of frith, which I need to be whole. Without shelter, that is extremely difficult to facilitate. I owe something to the spirit of the place that keeps me. Once again, it is about recognition.

The same goes for any other wight or god. They’re all intelligent, and they’ll accept or reject our offerings at their own accord. However, one cannot always know without doing. Some things we have lost the answers concerning. How lucky we are to be the ones who get to learn and find out. How lucky we are to be here, early in the development of Heathenry, early in its many different forms, and forms to come. The histories of hearths and groups is young, and many of us are getting to write the first pages. I’ve come to appreciate the gravity of the moment.