Mead and Mistletoe

Thoughts on Pagan Spirituality from an ADF Heathen Druid

Author: matty

Celebrating Hlafmaest/ Lughnasadh/ Lammas 2018

Happy Hlafmaest Everyone. Hlafmaest/ Lughnasadh/ Lammas is the “feast of first fruits” or “feast of loaves” held on 1st August each year to celebrate the beginning of the grain and potato harvest and the start of Autumn. It ushers in the end of hunger and a bountiful abundance of crops.

For the ancient Irish, Lughnasadh was one of the four Fire festivals mentioned in the Irish tale of Tochmarc Emire. It is named after the god Lugh, the Fair One, and is the only festival to be named after a deity. However, he is not a god of the harvest, but rather “a patron of all human skills with a special interest in kings and heroes.” It was said to have been started by him as a funeral feast and sporting competition in commemoration of his foster mother, the goddess Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. Historian Peter Berresford-Ellis says it was “an agrarian feast in honour of the harvesting of crops.” The festival evolved into a great tribal assembly where legal agreements were made, political problems were discussed and huge Olympic-style sporting contests were held. It was a time of peace and was also one of two festivals where hand-fastings have been traditionally held.

hlafmaest harvestAnglo Saxon Christians also held their feast of Lammas at this time. The Anglo-Saxon chronicle refers to it as “first fruits” and historian Ronald Hutton says that it was customary at this time to reap the first of the ripe cereals and bake it into bread. This is why the festival was known as Lammas or Loaf-mass. Hutton states that “the importance of the first day of August was already so well established by 673 that Archbishop Theodore of Tarsus decreed that the annual synod of the newly established Church in England should be held then. It would seem very likely, therefore, that a pre-Christian festival had existed among the Anglo-Saxons on that date” and “the same feast was…celebrated in different ways and under different names all over Celtic, Saxon, or Norse Britain.” He goes on to say that in the middle ages this was an important time for holding fairs, paying rents, electing local officials and opening up common lands. Modern heathens follow the example of Garman Lord in naming the festival Hlafmaest, the feast of bread.

An Anglo Saxon charm recommends breaking up the bread that has been blessed on  or hallowed on this day, and sprinkling it in the four corners of the barn to protect the harvested crops. Meanwhile folk practices suggest this was a time when the first sheaf of the harvest was honoured, either by being turned into a corn dolly or given as an offering (by leaving it lying in the field, burning it or throwing it into water). Alternatively it might be hung up in the house to keep away bad luck.

English folk songs of this time tell of John Barleycorn (personification of Barley), who is cut down at the harvest. Meanwhile in Norse tales, Freyr has a servant called Byggvir (Barley) who may be associated with the Harvest. Byggvir is sometimes also related to the Anglo Saxon figure “Beowa” (Old English for “Barley”), mentioned in the royal lineages as the son of Scyld and the grandson of Sceafa (Old English for “Sheaf”). Perhaps he is also related to Beowulf, as a Beowulf is mentioned as the son of Scyld Scefing.

In England, the end of July is often associated with hot weather and storms, which makes Thunor a great god to celebrate at this time. He was often seen as a god of the common man, especially of farmers and fertility. In Norse myth he has a wife called Sif, whose golden hair may be associated with the harvest, and which Loki cuts off in one tale.

For Anglo-Saxon and Norse pagans, there are many gods who may be honoured at this time – Thunor and Sif for the summer rains and the protection of the harvest, Tiw as god of the Thing, or Byggvir/ Beowa/ John Barleycorn/ Scyld or Sceafa as representation of the harvest itself. This is also a festival that lends itself particularly well  to myth tellings or re-enactments, such as the story of Beowulf or of Loki cutting the hair of Sif.

Another important historical practice in England at this time is the picking of bilberries (the English version of blueberries), which often occurred on the first Sunday of August. Similarly, the first of the year’s potatoes are often ready to be pulled up at this date, and as I have an allotment this year, I shall celebrate by  harvesting some.

As this was traditionally a time when the Thing was held for the Norse in Iceland, and when elections of local officials were once held in Britain, it makes sense that this would be a good time for our Pagan groups to elect new officials or hold annual general meetings to decide important issues.

In Celtic wales, this was a time when people would hike up the Brecon Beacons, perhaps harking back to the old practice of making pilgrimages to hill tops to honour the gods and leave offerings. Perhaps we could use this as an opportunity to go hiking, and leave an offering when we reach the top of some nearby hill or mountain?

Throughout Celtic cultures this has been a time to visit fairs or to hold annual competitions, games and equestrian activities (this is a feast of the warrior). One can carry out saining rites to protect the home or visit holy wells. It is a time to be thankful for the harvest, make bannocks, cheese or Lample Pie, and to enjoy the bounties of nature.

Hlafmaest or Lughnasadh is a time to be grateful for the food on our table and to remember that the hot days of summer are coming to an end as we approach the cold part of the year. It is the time to briefly rest before the hard work of reaping what has been sown begins. It’s traditional to celebrate this time by making corn dollies which represent the spirits of the fields (ask a farmer if you can cut some corn), baking bread, holding sports competitions, selling your crafts at summer fairs and hiking to hilltops with offerings. It is also a good time to pray for or work for peace. Offerings are given to Lugh, Thunor, Tiw or Beow in the hopes of a good harvest. I will be celebrating this festival by doing an ADF ritual, making some bread (one for me and one for a neighbour as an act of kindness), opening the Mead that I brewed at Midsummer, going hiking, having a feast of seasonal foods such as sausages, potatoes, sweetcorn and blueberry gravy, and spending time in nature. Sometimes I also pick bilberries/ whortleberries. Have a great Hlafmaest everyone.

Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Albertsson, Alaric. Travels through Middle Earth: The Path of a Saxon Pagan. USA: Llewellyn Publications, 2009.

Ellis, Peter Berresford. A Brief History of the Druids. London: Constable & Robinson Ltd, 2002.

http://www.tairis.co.uk

http://www.gaolnaofa.com/festivals/

http://gaelicfolkway.webs.com/feiseannaomh.htm

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Celebrating Litha/ Midsummer/ Summer Solstice 2018

Happy Summer Solstice everyone. It is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.  Though the traditional date of Midsummer, when the Sun will appear to start moving again is 24th June. The word Solstice comes from the Latin “Sol” meaning sun and “Sistere” meaning to stand still. It is the longest day of the year with 15 hours of sunshine. The sun is at its most powerful today. Celebrated by almost all cultures historically, it is an important time of the year for Pagans and Pantheists as one of the major festivals. Also known as Litha after the Anglo Saxon name for the summer months or Alban Heruin (light of the shore) in revival Druidry traditions, it is a great time to celebrate by having a BBQ and bonfire on the beach.

Crops have all been planted and are growing strongly, the earth is alive with blooming flowers, green trees and insects busy collecting pollen and making honey. It is a time to rest, to have fun and to celebrate before the hard work of the harvest begins. From now on the days begin to shorten again as we move back towards the winter. In the agricultural community, this is the traditional month for sheep shearing.

Although its not one of the four Celtic Fire Festivals, the day was probably celebrated by the Druids and its quite possible that places like Stonehenge were used by them at this time (no they didn’t build it). On the Isle of Man, there is a tradition of “paying rent” to the patron of the island, and Celtic god of the sea, Manannan Mac Lyr on this day, by offering him bundles of reeds, meadow grasses and yellow flowers, along with prayers for aid and protection in fishing. Another deity related to this time is the goddess Aine, the Irish goddess of summer, love, fertility and sovereignty. She is sometimes seen as the wife or daughter of Manannan Mac Lir, and is the queen of fairies because this is traditionally the night when they come out and join in celebrations. Aine is honoured on Midsummers eve with a feast, procession and bonfires.

Midsummer is very important in Northern Pagan traditions such as Heathenry and is a time to honour Sunne, goddess of the sun, the landspirits and sometimes Balder/ Baldaeg is also honoured. Grimm talks in Teutonic Mythology of setting up a “Sun-wheel.” There are some who say this was historically thought to be a time when the Wyrms (dragons) and ill meaning spirits are about so Thunor could be honoured for his protective role. The Anglo Saxon god of the sea was Wada, and he could also be a good deity to honour on Midsummer as Midsummer is a traditional time to honour the Sea God (such as Celtic Manannan). According to Jaan Puhvel in “Comparative Mythology”, the idea of a fiery power in water is a traditional Indo-European mythology so this fits quite well. For Wiccans, this is when “the powers of nature reach this highest point. The Earth is awash in the fertility of the Goddess and God.”

Historian Ronald Hutton says that at this time “Midsummer bonfires, with much the same rituals, are recorded all over England, Wales, Ireland, Lowland Scotland and the Northern Isles.” The first record of lighting protective fires on midsummer’s eve is from the 12th century, however in the 4th century pagans celebrated by rolling flaming wheels downhill to a river, a practice that can be traced right up to the 19th century in Dartmoor, Devon. It was a time for divination and the Anglo Saxon Lacunga says its the best time to collect certain plants for healing. In fact, St John’s eve was seen as the time when herbs were most potent and magical. In 13th and 14th centuries there are records of people carrying fire around their fields on midsummers eve, people staying up all night around bonfires in the street and youths gathering at wells for songs and games. Hutton says “the dossier seems to be complete enough to speak confidently of a pre-Christian seasonal ritual of major importance.” Meanwhile, in Audoenus’s 7th century text Vita Eligii, there is the statement “Let no Christian believe in bonfires or sit at incantations, which are diabolical works; let no Christian perform the solstice rites, or dancing or leaping to flute-player or diabolical chants, on the feast of St John.” Other traditions from Northern European countries include having a maypole, going to a “midsummer-tree” to pray that the fields might be given growing strength or making large Midsummer’s wreaths and giving them to others as a sign of affection. Bonfires were made in the streets and marketplaces and homes were decorated with sprigs of birch, fennel and flowers.

This year I will be celebrating on the more traditional date of Midsummer’s eve, 23rd and 24th June. I will try to spend time out in nature, do a ritual and decorate my altar with solar symbols like some oak leaves and some sunflower seeds.

Here’s a list of some good ways to celebrate the Summer Solstice this week –

  1. Strawberries are in season, so have some strawberries and cream
  2. Have a BBQ, bonfire or picnic. Get outside.
  3. Do a ritual to honour the Sun or other deities of Summer. Be grateful for the Sun’s warmth and enjoy it.
  4. The bees are busy making this year’s honey, so it’s a great time to make your Mead for the year.
  5. Elder flowers are in season so it’s also a good time to make Elderflower cordial.
  6. Go camping, maybe at Stonehenge if you can, and get up to watch the Sunrise.
  7. Do a beach clean
  8. Make an offering of rushes to Manannan, god of the sea.
  9. Collect herbs such as Mugwort or St John’s Wort for herbalism.
  10. Decorate your altar with symbols of the season such as Oak Leaves and Sunflower Seeds.

Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Kveldulf Gundarsson. Our Troth: Volume 2 – Living the Troth. USA: Booksurge Publishing, 2007.

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Ancestry, Runes, Honour and Mission

So this is just going to be a general update on some things that have happened in my life over the past few months which I wanted to share.

Firstly, I took a DNA test recently. I had a story in my family that one of my ancestors was a Japanese witch who married a British army captain and I wanted to confirm or disprove the story. When the DNA test came back, there was no trace of Japanese so I unless it can be proven by DNA tests from other family members, I’m going to assume that was just a legend or mistake for now.

However, some very interesting things did come out of the DNA test. Originally from South West England, I was unsure if I would have primarily Celtic or Anglo Saxon ancestry. This is important to me because, while I side with the Universalists in the Folkish vs Universalist debate, for me personally, I want to honour the gods of my ancestors. I started off my Pagan journey focused on the Celtic gods but felt more of a call to the Anglo Saxon ones over time and I was unsure if this was the way I should be going, or whether I should focus more on the Celtic ones still. Well, the DNA tests came back and showed a few interesting things. Firstly….one test showed that within the last 10 generations, my ancestry is 95% British (plus a little Eastern Europe and Scandinavian thrown in), and as I expected after doing some family history studies, about 27% is from central south England, but there was also something very unexpected – 26% was from South East England – which is most definitely not Celtic. There was some from South Wales and Cornwall (so I have about 15% Celtic ancestry), but most of it was clearly from Anglo Saxon areas. This confirmed to me that Anglo Saxon was probably the right path for me, but then there was a second test – this one looked at the direct male line all the way back through history, and it showed that my Haplogroup was from the Germanic branch of the R1b Fatherline. Apparently this is associated with Western Germany and to find it outside Germany suggests its from the “Germanic migrations that have shaped much of Europe over the past two millennia” – in other words, probably the Anglo Saxons. Together these tests have really confirmed for me that honouring the Anglo Saxon gods is the way to go. Of course, DNA tests have issues and we are only at the beginning of the science right now, but it’s the best I’m going to get for the forseeable future so I’m happy to go with it.

Secondly, a few years ago I made some runes on clay. I ended up taking them all around the world with me and some of them ended up getting lost. I have been meaning for a while to create a new set so that I can do divinations properly. I finally got the motivation to do this today and created a new set of runes – this time on small disks of wood. Now that I have an allotment, which came with some tools such as a Saw, it has made it much more feasible to do things like make the wood disks. I therefore went to a local woodland and found some suitable wood. I made the rune disks and then carved the runes with a penknife. I also painted them red. They came out pretty well. Here is a picture…

Another big thing that’s been playing on my mind for a year or two now is “purpose” i.e. what is the purpose of life, and in particular what is the purpose of my life. The truth is that I don’t think we can ever know. I’m not sure if there is an overall purpose for life that everyone should follow, or whether we each have our own unique purposes. I also don’t know if a purpose is something we have to create for ourselves as the existentialists suggest, or whether it’s something that the gods/ earth mother decide for us. Nevertheless, I have come up with a “mission statement” to guide me as a purpose of my life for now. I would like to share it here…

My mission in life is to “Live an honourable and contemplative life of service and devotion to the Earth, the Kindreds and all life.”

Of course this could change over time but for now I’m happy with it. It helps give my life direction and helps me make important decisions. One of my long term goals is to set up a Pagan monastery and that fits in well with this. In that mission statement I have also emphasised the importance of living “honourably” because I have come to the conclusion recently that “honour” is probably the most important pagan moral virtue and aim of life for a Pagan….it certainly was in the Paleo-Pagan cultures of the past. I intend to do a blog on this pretty soon.

I have also been working through the OBOD and BDO Ovate courses, and the ADF Clergy Preliminary courses which I am hopeful will be completed by the end of June and I will then begin my main studies to become an ADF priest. On my previous blog Nature Is Sacred, I mentioned that one of the things that came out of the OBOD Bardic course I did last year was the inspiration to join the Navy Reserves (something the gods confirmed to me by giving me the rune Ing in a divination – which talks about going over the sea in a boat)…. I’m glad to say that I was able to join this month.

Well that’s pretty much it for now. I do intend to get back to the Heathenry50 challenge posts soon, but my grand plans for doing a post every week have been thwarted by life lol. Finally, please don’t forget to subscribe by email, like the Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Tumblr. The links for this can be found in the sidebar.

I’ll leave you with this great track from the Vikings series…

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Celebrating Beltane/ Eostre/ Blostmfreols 2018

Happy Beltane/ Eostre everyone. So this year I am trying something new – I’m trying to follow the old Anglo Saxon calendar rather than the traditional wheel of the year. An interesting coincidence this year is that the celebration of Eostre (which falls on the full moon of EostreMonth) is actually on April 30th this year – the same date as Beltane eve.

The Anglo Saxons split the year into two seasons – Summer and Winter, rather than four, and their summer started with the celebration of Eostre (just as their winter started with the celebration of the the Winter Full Moon.

Throughout April I have been going for a daily walk, and noticing how things have been changing in nature. It is as though this month nature officially woke up. At the start of the month there were very few flowers around or leaves on trees, but now everything is bursting into life – blossoms are around, the bees are busy searching for nectar, almost every tree has leaves on it, the woods are full of flowers like bluebells, lesser celadine, wood anemones and ramsons (as well as many edible foods). It has become warm enough at some points to go out without a coat. I’ve been able to start planting things out on my allotment.

So let’s look at some of the Lore surrounding Eostre and Beltane. Beltane, meaning “bright fire” is one of the four great fire festivals of the ancient Celtic cultures. In ancient Irish culture it was the time when both the Tuatha De Danaan and the Milesians came to Ireland and was originally celebrated when the Hawthorns began to blossom. Half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, it marks the start of the light half of the year and heralds the beginning of summer. According to historian Ronald Hutton, “the ritual of Beltane was found in all Celtic areas of the British Isles, but also in pastoral regions of Germanic and Scandinavian Europe.” The historical evidence for the celebration of this festival is much better than for others. The earliest references to it are from 900AD which state “lucky fire i.e two fires Druids used to make with great incantations, and they used to bring the cattle against the diseases of the year to those fires” and “they used to drive cattle between them.” Another reference says “a fire was kindled in his [Bel] name at the beginning of summer always, and cattle were driven between two fires.” Like the other three Celtic festivals, Beltane is mentioned in the Irish tale of Tochmarc Emire and the ritual of lighting bonfires at this time survived right up until the 19th century. Like Samhain, it was seen as a liminal time “when fairies and witches were especially active, and magical devices [were] required to guard against them.” To the welsh, it was one of the “spirit nights.” Hutton says that “rituals were conducted to protect…against the powers of evil, natural and supernatural, not merely in the season to come but because those malign powers were supposed to be active at this turning point of the year.” Other celebrations in English areas at this time include “bringing in the May” and dancing around a Maypole. Bringing in the May dates back to at least the 13th century and refers to gathering flowers and foliage to bring home and celebrate the beginning of summer. Hutton says that there is no evidence for when the Maypole came to Britain but it was first recorded in a welsh poem in the mid 14th century and is also recorded in Scandinavia so probably originated from the continent. The May Pole was not a phallic or world tree symbol but was most likely simply a “focal point for celebrations” or something to hang garlands on.

Beltane marks the beginning of the pastoral season, the time when farmers traditionally moved their herds to summer pastures (driving them between two fires for blessing and protection first) and people could go outside because of the milder weather. The crops were being put into the ground now and it was traditionally the beginning of calving season. There was lots of milking to do and making dairy products like butter (in fact the Anglo Saxons called the month of May “Trimilchi” – three milkings.) It was the busiest time to visit water sources to collect water for healing and good luck. It was also a time for the renewal of rents.

Learning from historical practices, Gaelic reconstructionists celebrate this time by extinguishing a flame (ideally a bonfire) and relighting it. If there is no bonfire or hearth fire, it is a good time to buy a new hearth candle for your altar and ritually extinguish the old one while lighting the new one. They eat a feast, usually including bannocks and oatmeal porridge or soup with soft cheese and shoots of new herbs and salad greens such as wood sorrel. They also decorate their houses with greenery and yellow flowers like buttercups and collect dew or water in the morning (considered potent for healing and maintaining a youthful appearance). They also make offerings to the gods, carry out protection rites to sain their house and land while warding the boundaries, and make charms of rowan. Some groups also see this as a time to renew their bond with the land goddess (the nearest river) by giving her offerings at her river bank. In Welsh myth this is the time when Taliesin was found in a river after being reborn from the goddess Ceridwen, and some pagans may choose to read his story on May eve.

Eostre is a time for fertility, fun and flowers. The birds have returned from their migrations, animals are giving birth to their young and all around us the world is turning green once again. It is a time when nature has officially woken up – the buds on trees are bursting, seeds are beginning to sprout up out of the ground, flowers are blossoming and there is a palpable sense of renewed life all around us. It is a feast of awakening and Summer has arrived. Bede said that the name Easter came from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre and the month was named after her. Hutton says that one could argue that “Eostre was a Germanic dawn-deity who was venerated, appropriately at this season of opening and new beginnings. It is equally valid, however, to suggest that the Anglo-Saxon ‘Estor-Monath’ simply meant ‘the month of opening’ or ‘the month of beginnings.’” He goes on to say that the practice of decorating eggs at this time does go back to at least the 1200’s but the chocolate version of the egg is a twentieth century invention. Eggs are a very apt symbol for this season as they represent new life. For agricultural societies, this is also the time when the extra light led to a big increase in egg production and was a welcome source of food.

For Anglo Saxon and Norse Heathens like Asatru and Fyrn Sidu, this festival is called Blostmfreols or Walpurgisnacht. It is a night when witches gather and magic happens. For some, it is a time to honour Freya, the goddess of magic and love. For others it is time to honour Eastre or Baldaeg (Grimm associates this festival in May with Balder in Germanic countries). It is also a time to honour the Landwights. Like the Gaelic Reconstructionists, it is seen as a time of supernatural danger, and is celebrated with feasting, bonfires and protective rites. Some modern northern polytheists see the 9 days between Earth Day and May day as the nine nights when Woden hung on the world tree to sacrifice himself in order to learn the mysteries of the runes. It is therefore a good time to focus on runic divinations and making runic charms. Along with this, some celebrate April 23rd as Sigurds Day (the norse equivalent of St George who slew a dragon) and some may choose to celebrate the ancient Norse celebration Sigrblot (victory sacrifice) which marked the beginning of summer and asked Odin for victory in war and good luck on journeys.

There are many ways we can celebrate Eostre/ Beltane

  • Dye eggs as an offering to Eostre.
  • Eat chocolate eggs.
  • Go for a picnic or walk in nature
  • Decorate our home, altar or hair with flowers
  • Do a ritual to honour Eostre or the Landwights
  • Plant the main crop potatoes.
  • Have a bonfire – or run between two bonfires/ candles for purification.
  • Create a maypole and dance around it
  • Eat seasonable foods – or even make a salad of wild edible foods such as dandelions, ramsons, jack by the hedge, nettles, goosegrass, hawthorn leaves e.t.c
  • Make a meal of new potatoes with asparagus.
  • Make lemonade.
  • Focus on the romantic side of life.

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Worldview: The Principles of Paganism

Hi everyone, sorry I haven’t been updating the blog recently, life gets in the way sometimes and I’ve been struggling to find the right way to talk about this topic. Therefore I have slightly changed the title from “Worldview, Animism and Divinity” to “Worldview: The Principles of Paganism”.

What I want to look at here, are what are the defining characteristics of the Pagan, and specifically Heathen religion? How can we define it? What are the key principles that make up the worldview of a Heathen?People say that if you ask 10 pagans to define Paganism you’ll get 11 answers. And anyone who tries to define it will invariably miss someone out. Well probably but I think we should try anyway. In my opinion, the best explanation of Paganism comes from the Pagan Federation. It defines Paganism as:

“A polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshipping religion.”

So a Pagan is someone who follows a pantheistic or polytheistic religion. Someone who honours multiple gods and/or nature.

Paganism (and therefore Heathenry) is based around four key principles that make up it’s worldview. These are – Polytheism, Ancestor Veneration, Local Animism and Pantheism. Over the following weeks we will explore then in more detail but today we will look at a general overview of them.

Polytheism

Polytheism comes from two Greek words “poly” meaning many, and “theos” meaning god. In other words, Polytheists believe in many gods. Polytheism itself can be split into three groups – hard polytheism, soft polytheism and archetypal polytheism. Hard polytheists are those who believe that there are many gods, that the gods are real, existing individuals with their own personalities, thoughts and plans. They are distinct from each other. Most heathens, including myself, would categorise ourselves as Hard Polytheists.

Soft Polytheists are those who see the gods as aspects of one or a few gods. They might agree with the statement “all gods are one god”. Hinduism is a good example of this. Many Wiccans are also soft polytheists (duo-theists) who see the various goddesses across cultures as aspects of the one goddess, and the various gods across cultures as aspects of the one horned god.

Finally Archetypal Polytheists don’t believe that the gods are supernatural existing individuals, but rather that they exist in the collective unconscious, that while they are bigger and more powerful than us, they are not separate from us. It is important to note that archetypal polytheists don’t see the gods as just symbols.

When we polytheists talk of our gods, they are not the same as the monotheistic god. The gods of polytheism are more powerful than humans but they are not all-powerful, all-knowing or benevolent. They are limited, have their own agenda’s (sometimes in conflict with each other) and may have moral flaws just like us. However they are much older and more powerful. One of the best advantages about being a Polytheist is that we tend to be more tolerant of other religions than monotheists due to our ability to acknowledge the existence of other people’s gods without worshipping them. We also don’t have to contend with philosophical problems like the problem of evil as we don’t have a god who is simultaneously all powerful, all good and all knowing (a contradiction in terms).

Ancestor Veneration

Ancestor devotion is arguably one of the world’s oldest religious practices and it was important to ancient pagans too. Honouring ones parents, grandparents and ancestors back through time is a vital part of Paganism and Heathenry. It teaches us important values, like filial piety, gratefulness and respect for others. Modern Pagans particularly honour their ancestors during the winter period. There are ancestors of blood (our family), ancestors of place (those who lived in the same area as us in the past) and ancestors of spirit (those who have inspired us or our culture – including honouring heroes such as from the Saga’s). Our ancestors can also include all life forms back through time to the first living thing. Pagans today research our ancestry, have ancestral altars, and pray to them when we need help, giving them offerings of food or drink. For many Pagans, ancestors are the first point of call when we have a need because while gods are mostly interested in the universe and their own plans, the ancestors are much more concerned with their family lines i.e. us and can therefore be powerful sources of help and wisdom. They can help us resolve difficulties, ensure good luck and prosperity in our lives and intercede on our behalf with the gods. If mistreated, it’s important to also acknowledge that they can bring misfortune too.

Local Animism

Traditional animists believe that there is spirit or soul in everything, whether tree or sun, rock or clouds. A modern version, new Animism, interprets things a little differently and talks about “more than human  persons”. New animists argue that each thing has person-hood rather than spirit – in other words, there are human persons, rock persons, sun persons, cloud persons, hedgehog persons, oak persons, bee persons and so on. They have an inherent worth and we are naturally in relationship with them. We can build those relationships up. Interestingly some philosophers support a version called “pan-psychism” or “pan-experientialism” which argues that the ability to experience, or even some form of consciousness, exists in everything from the smallest electron to the largest universe. In ancient versions of Paganism we can see animism in their worship of the spirits of trees, plants and animals, in the spirits of home and place, in the belief in land-wights, elves, dwarves, fairies and the Sidhe. Modern Pagans also honour these spirits.

But animism is not usually focused on honouring spirits as a whole, but on local spirits – the spirits who live close to you and often can help you out. One thing I discovered during 18 months of traveling is how difficult it is to practice Paganism when you are on the move. Paganism, Animism, Heathenry – these are all rooted in the local. Graham Harvey, in What Do Pagans Believe, argues that “pagans know their local landscapes and build relationships with it and the spirits who inhabit it.  “the original meaning of ‘pagan’ – ‘ an inhabitant of a particular place’ – has encouraged a new focus on locality in modern paganism. A classical pagan was someone who belonged, someone who celebrated where they lived, someone who knew their local shrines, springs, hills, trees and neighbours, and could trace their decent from local ancestors. These pagans lived in both urban and rural places; the important thing was belonging to an area.” Practicing Paganism is about knowing your local area, and connecting with the land and spirits there. It is about celebrating the seasons as they change there. It is about maintaining an altar there.

Pantheism

Finally, we have Pantheism. Pantheism comes from two Greek words “pan” meaning all, and “theos” meaning god. In other words, Pantheists believe that all is god. Pantheists see the earth as sacred and the universe as divine. It is the foundation on which nature worship and veneration is built, and it is an important inspiration for environmentalism. Many scientists are pantheists, as can be seen from James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory. Pantheism can be both “naturalistic” or “supernatural”. It can see deity as personal, but more often views it as impersonal, more akin to a force like the Dao. In modern Paganism we honour the Earth Mother. While this is due to the rise of the environmental movement in the 1960’s, there are lots of traces of worship of an earth mother in ancient times, whether it was the Celts worshipping (and the king marrying) the local goddess of sovereignty represented by the main river in the area, or the Anglo-Saxon Acerbot charm calling on Erce (earth), Tacitus’ writings about the early Germanic people’s worshipping Nerthus who he called Mother Nature, or the existence of Gaia and Terra Mater (earth mother) in ancient Greek and Roman religion, it is clear that honouring the Earth Mother was an important of Ancient Paganism too.

So these four philosophical outlooks help to define the Heathen or Pagan worldview. It is a very different, and much more ancient, way of looking at the world, and over the coming weeks we are going to explore exactly how that manifests itself within the Heathen tradition and how I interpret and practice it from my perspective.

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Cosmology

In our modern times, we have a pretty good scientific understanding of cosmology – how the universe began, the story of the universe, how things came to be like they are, and how everything works. Although it should be noted that there are still many questions for science to answer.

Similarly, the ancient Norse and Anglo-Saxon heathens also had quite a sophisticated view of how the universe worked. Theirs was a multiverse (a concept modern science is only just starting to consider). In order to find the details for their cosmology, we can look in a variety of places – the most important of which are the Poetic Edda (Voluspa) and the Prose Edda. In addition, there are sources which give us important details about the Anglo Saxon worldview, including the Nine Herbs charm and Tacitus’ Germania. It should be noted that what we are doing here is making an assumption that the Norse and Anglo-Saxons had a very similar conception of the universe, which is not necessarily true.

According to the Norse sources, in the beginning there was nothing – there was just the void – Ginnungagap. There were also two realms called Nifolham (the dark world) and Muspelham (a world of fire). There were many rivers in Nifolham flowing from a spring called Hvergelmir, and as these rivers got further away from their source, they become ice. Poisonous drops spew out into Ginnungagap and froze into Rime, building up in layers. When the ice meets the sparks and glowing embers of Muspelham, it thaws and from it comes the first life – Ymir. From Ymir come the frost giants. The dripping ice also formed a cow called Audumhla whose milk nourishes Ymir. She also licks the ice and forms the first of the gods – Buri. This story tells us that like other Indo-European people’s, the Norse and Anglo Saxons believed that the universe came about through the interaction of two elements – fire and water.

Buri has a son called Bor and Bor has three sons – Odin/ Woden, Vili and Ve. This has very interesting parallels with the Germanic story of the beginning of the gods in Tacitus’ Germania – the first god is Tuisto, who has a Son Mannus (Proto-Germanic Mannuz = man), who in turn has three Sons – and their offspring are the tribes of germany – the Ingaevones (Ing?), Irminones (woden/ irmin?) and Istaevones. The Ingaevones were the ancestors of the Angles (and therefore the English). Tacitus says that ancient songs/ lays were sung about Tuisto, who was “brought forth from the earth” (maybe born from the Earth Mother). Some scholars consider Tuisto to be the same as Ymir, others consider him the same as, or the son of, Tiw. in one manuscript his name is Tuisco, which connects to Tiwaz, meaning “son of Tiu”. Perhaps therefore the hierarchy of gods is the Earth Mother and Tiw (the original sky father) bore Tuisto. He bore Mannus, and Mannus bore Woden, Ing and Istae? However, Norse texts suggest the Earth was created from Ymir, or that she is the wife and/or daughter of Odin. If we compare it with Vedic mythology about Tvastr, Manu and Yama, Tvastr is the grandfather of Yama (Ymir?) and the brother of Yama is Manu.

In the Norse sources, the three brothers, Odin, Vili and Ve, then kill the giant Ymir and his blood killed off most of the giants except one family. Then the gods used the body of Ymir to make the earth – his blood became the sea, his bones became the mountains, his teeth became stones, his skull became the sky (which was then held up by four dwarves), embers of Muspelham became stars, his brain became clouds, his hair became trees and from his eyelashes was made Middangeard (Middle Earth). This has parallels with other Indo-European myths in which there are two beings Man (mannus?) and Twin (ymir?). Man sacrifices his twin and from his body creates the world. The very creation of the world therefore is through sacrifice, and when we sacrifice in ritual, we are re-enacting that.

The Gods also made humans out of two trees on the seashore. The man was called Ask (from Ash) and the woman Embla (from Elm), and from them came all people.  A giant called Norfi has a daughter called “Night” and Night had a son called “Day.” And Odin gives them both chariots to ride around the earth every 24 hours. Similarly a man called Mundilfari has a son called Mona (moon) and a daughter called Sunne (sun), whom the gods placed in the heavens to drive the horses that draw the chariots of the sun and moon. They are chased by wolves, the offspring of Fenrir. The gods also created their own realm – Osgeard, and a bridge from this realm to earth called the Bifrost, the rainbow. Osgeard contains many halls of the gods. And they created dwarves who live in the earth and rocks (along with the dark elves).

At the centre of all things is the world tree, which is called Yggdrasil for the Norse, or Eomensyl for the Anglo Saxons (if they had such a tree). It is an ash tree where the gods gather each day to hold their courts. It has three roots – one in Osgeard, one in Ginnungagap with the frost giants, and one in Nifolham. Below each root is a well. In Nifolham the well is Hvergelmir, Mimir’s well of wisdom is in the realm of the frost giants (where Woden gave an eye in return for wisdom), and the third is the Well of Wyrd in Osgeard, where the gods meet to make judgements. Three maidens – Wyrd (Fate), Werdande (Becoming) and Scyld (Obligation), who score runes on wood, make laws and shape men’s lives. They are the Wyrdae (Norns). There are other Wyrdae too, which come to each of us at birth and decide the lengths of our lives and our fates. The three maidens draw water each day from the Well of Wyrd and mix it with mud to make a sacred white clay, before splashing it over the tree so it won’t wither (some falls to the earth as dew). In this way they help to maintain the universe. In ADF ritual, when we recreate the cosmos, we also put water onto the tree, reenacting this sacred rite.

At the top of Eormensyl sits and eagle and a hawk, at the bottom is the serpent Nidhogg (who gnaws at the tree roots), and between them runs the mischief making squirrel Ratatosk. There are also four stags in the tree who eat its foliage. In the well of Wyrd, two swans nourish themselves.

So we have seen so far, four realms – Muspelham (the place of fire), Nifolham (the dark place of ice), Middangeard (earth) and Osgeard (the home of the gods). Also in the heavens is Elfham, the world where the light elves dwell. It is said to be ruled over by Lord Ing (Frey). Then there is Ettinham, the realm of the giants, and Hel, the place of the dead. And there is Wanham – the place of the Wanes (Vanir). Finally is Dwarfham, the home of the dweorg or dark elves.

At the end of time, the earth, the gods and all the worlds will be destroyed by Surt and the children of Loki. This event is called Ragnarok, but in keeping with the ancient Pagan view of the cyclical nature of time, the earth will be reborn again.

While the Norse worldview talks of nine worlds, the Nine Herbs Charm of the Anglo-Saxons says there are seven worlds. Now there are a couple of ways to look at this – either we could say that the seven worlds are a Greco-Roman or Christian influence, because they originally believed there were seven planets, and just ignore the text. Or alternatively, perhaps there are seven worlds, and the two elemental realms of Muspelham and Niflham weren’t considered proper worlds.

But there are some more complications. In some Anglo Saxon sources, the idea of Neorxnawang is mentioned. This could be translated as a heavenly meadow or field of contentment, where the dead go. Perhaps this is in Osgeard or in Hel? It has been suggested that this is the same as the Norse Idavollr, the place where the gods meet, or Glaesisvellir, a place in Ettinham where those who go there become healthy and never die. Stephen Pollington says that “wang” means meadow or field, while the “neorxes” could refer to a variety of root words related to the dead or the earth. He suggests possible translations as “Plain of those who belong to Nerthus”, “Field of the homes of the dead” or “Field of the Sons of the Earth.” This suggests a realm in the earth and reminds me of the fields of burial mounds across southern England.

When it comes to where the dead may go, we have some clues – many people were buried in burial mounds. Some were buried in ships or with horses which may suggest they would take a journey, however other graves had elaborate chambers like furnished halls set up inside them, suggesting that the dead were likely to be dwelling there rather than journeying on somewhere else. They were often buried with weapons or feasting gear suggesting a need for these items in the afterlife. There is the Wid Ferstice charm which talks about the gods and elves sending “spears” into people to afflict them, but these spears must return to “the mountain-head”. Combine this with the view in the Norse sources that some families “die into” particular mountains (according to H R Ellis), and the story in Eyrbyggja saga of a man who sees a vision of a mountain opened up and a dead man being welcomed by his kin to a great feast within. All this suggests that the realm of the dead is in their mounds or mountains (just like the Sidhe in Ireland). 

So where does this leave the realm of Hel? Well, Pollington argues that it was a “dark, cold damp place without joy” and this is reflected in various Old English poems (though Christian). And there doesn’t seem to be much evidence for a goddess called Hel, but there is an Old English version of the Gospel of Nicodemus in which a chthonic female figure orders the devil to leave her realm. Pollington suggests that in the Norse, Hel may be part of Freyja as she chooses half the dead and accepts them into her hall (though Freyja is not part of the Anglo Saxon pantheon).  In Beowulf it says “in his fen abode, his soul he laid down, his heathen soul Hel took” but does this refer to the place or goddess? If Hel is the place of the dead, it can only be accessed by crossing a bridge over a river. 

We shouldn’t rule out the use of the term “Heofen” (heaven) either just because it sounds Christian – it may have been used by Anglo Saxon pagans to refer to a paradise place (though it usually means “sky”), and the word “himin” for heaven is used in Norse sources to refer to Heimdall’s home as “heaven mountain ” (Himinbjorg).

There is some evidence for Muspelham, or at least beings from Muspel, in Saxon sources as Pollington points out they use the words “Muspilli, Mudspell and Mutspelli” which deal with the worlds ending and come from the latin words “Mundus” and “Spillan” – world destroyers.

Similarly there is Wyrmsele (serpent hall) mentioned in Anglo Saxon sources (the Christian poem Judith), which may be similar to the Norse Nastrond. However, there is no mention or evidence for Wanham in Anglo Saxon sources as it was likely imported into Scandinavia from the Baltic area, and even Ettinham may be a later addition to the Norse cosmology after Iceland was discovered.

Finally, we should remember that “the divine was immanent in the natural world….far from being distant entities in the clouds” according to Pollington, and therefore we should be careful about assuming many worlds that are away from our own. 

So where does this leave us in conclusion? What is my cosmology? Well it is far from developed but here are some of the key elements for me….

There is a world tree, Eormensyl, with roots the dip into various wells, where the gods meet and the Wyrdae determine men’s fate. There are also seven realms. These are Middangeard, Osgeard, Elfham, Neorxnawang (which has something to do with the earth and burial mounds i.e. the place of the dead), Muspelham, Nifolham and Hel (Wyrmsele is either in Nifolham or Hel). This is very much a work in progress and I will almost certainly change my mind about this more as I delve deeper into it.

How about you? What do you think?

 

Sources:

The Elder Gods – Stephen Pollington

Our Troth – The Troth.

H R Ellis – Road to Hel.

Travels through Middle Earth – Alaric Albertsson

The Prose Edda – Snorri Sturluson

The Poetic Edda – Translation by Henry Adams Bellows.

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Why Heathenry?

To start off this 50 week heathenry challenge, I’ll start by exploring how I became a heathen, why it’s important to me and how it improves my life. There are many different paths one can take as a Pagan – Wicca, Druidry, Heathenry, Roman Polytheism, Slavic Polytheism and Hellenism. Within those broad categories there seem to be as different approaches to each one as there are people. So why did I choose heathenry in particular? Well before we get into that, I want to write about my spiritual journey leading up to this point.

I was born in Bristol, England. I spent the first 12 years of my life there, and though our family wasn’t particularly religious at that point, I did attend a Church of England school and some of my earliest memories from my time there were doing RE classes or attending the local church. Around the age of 11, my family went through quite a hard time due to two of my grandparents dying within 6 months of each other, and problems in my parents marriage. During that time of turmoil, my mother was invited to a different church, a pentecostal one, and became a Christian. My brothers and I attended soon after, as did my father, and through it, my parents marriage was saved. Within a year, we had made a decision to leave Bristol and move to South Devon, where I was to spend my teenage years and much of my adult years so far.

A friend once said to me that when I make up my mind to do something, I jump in with both feet. That has been true of religion too. We started attending a new Pentecostal church and within a few years I was a committed and baptised Christian too, a fundamentalist who took my faith very seriously. I ran the school Christian Union and was known for telling people not to swear or they’d end up in hell. I spent much of my free time reading Christian books and getting involved in Church activities. Religion and Spirituality was very important to me.

But by the age of 16 I was starting to have questions. Questions like what was the original Christianity really like? How could I integrate it with my political beliefs? Why did other denominations of Christians believe different things and interpret the Bible differently. This led me on a quest which was to ultimately destroy my faith in Christianity. I explored many different options in Christianity – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, Contemplative traditions, Quakers, Messianic and Celtic Christianity. I soon learned that much of Church history and consequently the beliefs of the Church are rooted more in politics than the Bible, I realised almost all of the creed of evangelical churches was not biblical. But what would ultimately destroy my faith were three events that happened in 2010.

In February of 2010, I finally accepted that I was gay and managed to find a way to reconcile that with the Bible. I then came out to my friends and family. They were very accepting, if a little shocked. However, a month later came a bigger shock – one of my close friends was killed in a car crash at age 23. This set me on a path into a more liberal Christianity, especially on the issue of hell, and led me to start questioning why a loving god would allow suffering. I came to the conclusion that the god of the bible was not loving after all. Third, I began to watch Youtube videos about atheism, morality and bible, and soon realised the inevitable end of my questioning – if the Bible was supposed to be the highest standard of morality, why did it include commands in favour of slavery, genocide and rape. That was the final straw and my Christian faith was over.

But the story doesn’t end there. I was not done with spirituality, and I was soon investigating Unitarian Universalism, Religious Naturalism and Pantheism. I began to feel a sense of wonder and awe at nature. It felt like I was waking up to the world. I found it to be a powerful source of spirituality for me. Though I approached it from a non-supernatural, purely scientific/ rational perspective, Naturalistic Pantheism began to fill a gap in my soul for something deeper and more meaningful. As I expanded this search into the practicalities of how to practice this, I found Paganism and the wheel of the year. I found Druidry a particularly suitable path and started various courses. I started my previous blog naturalpantheist.wordpress.com to explore the path.

Through my interest in Druidry, I found the organisation Ar nDraiocht Fein. This is the largest Druid organisation in America. Their vision since 1983 has been to build a public polytheistic religion based on the best scholarship about the Indo-European world. Because they don’t just focus on the Celtic but all the Indo European traditions – Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Roman, Greek, Slavic and Vedic (called Hearth Cultures in ADF), they appeal to people across the Pagan spectrum. Their commitment to scholarship and their study courses, inspired me to join, and I took their dedicant path course. Over time, practicing ADF style Druidry led me from an atheistic perspective on paganism, to become a polytheist. And I moved from a Celtic hearth culture, to an interest in Anglo-Saxon paganism. And this has led me to where I am today – a mixture of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry and Celtic Animistic Druidry, with a practice primarily based on ADF’s model.

Today I honour the Anglo-Saxon gods and my ancestors. I brew mead and use the runes for divination and communication with the spirits. I maintain an altar to the Kindreds in my home and I celebrate the turning seasons of the year. I seek to live an ethical and environmentally friendly life.

So, after that long history lesson, let’s get into the main question of the day – Why heathenry? As I said above, I consider myself both a Druid and a Heathen, perhaps “Anglo Saxon Druid” would be the best description of my beliefs and practice. But why? And why not just Druidry or Heathenry? Partly it is a result of being part of ADF – they mix Celtic and Norse/ Saxon paganism in a unique way. This is because we do not know enough about one or the other to produce a full religion – we have to use comparative mythology to fill in the gaps and create something that works and vaguely resembles what the ancients might recognise.

I also have a lot of faith in tradition, in the original way things were, in history. It was what started off my questioning in Christianity, and has done the same in Paganism. I am not a reconstructionist, but I am reconstructionist-inspired. I want to practice a religion that both meets my needs now, but is also as close to historical accuracy as is reasonable. I think scholarship is important and we should follow this rather than just making things up for the sake of it. It is hard to just mish-mash things together from a variety of sources and make them actually work, because often they are all based on very different foundational assumptions and worldviews. When we look at traditions of the past, their practices are built up over time, discarding what doesn’t work and keeping any innovations that do work. They stand the test of time and the process of trial and error. And that makes them worth taking seriously. Heathenry is a religion that takes tradition seriously too. It is called “the religion with homework” because it requires a lot of personal effort to read the latest scholarship and build a faith that works.

You may be saying, but doesn’t ADF mix traditions? Sort of. But the difference is that they are limiting their sources only to the Indo-European paganisms – religions that all evolved from the same group of people with the same basic social structures, worldview, patterns of thinking and approach to the divine. The Indo-European paganisms look different on the surface, but when you get underneath and dig deeper, they share a lot of similarities which helps us to work out what the original Indo-European religion was and then to build upon that foundation. It would be a very different story if we tried to mix say Celtic Paganism and Buddhism or Daoism – which are based on completely different worldviews and thinking, and leads instead to something closer to Wicca, a religion that has little to no historical accuracy.

Another reason I find heathenry to be a suitable religion for me is Ancestry. Ever since the death of my friend and a grandparent, I have found ancestor veneration to be a great way to cope with these events in my life. I think honouring one’s ancestors is very important for teaching us virtues like reverence, gratefulness and respect for elders. While most of my ancestors over the past thousand years would have been Christian, and possibly there’s a little Japanese in there too, I do think having a religion that was practiced by my ancestors further back is a good idea. I have recently done a DNA test so I will find out where my ancestors were from in early May, however being from England, I’m pretty sure most of them will be either Anglo Saxon or Celtic and so practicing a faith based on these is one way in which I can honour them and feel connected to them.

So I have explained my spiritual journey – through Christianity, to Naturalistic Pantheism and on to Polytheistic Paganism. I have explained some of the reasons why I find Heathenry to be a great fit – it’s emphasis on scholarship, the importance of tradition in reconstructing our modern pagan faiths, and the connection with ancestry.

The final reason for “Why Heathenry”, is more of a general point about Paganism as a whole. For me, I find nature to be the major source for spirituality. I find the purpose of my spirituality to be developing that connection with nature that we have lost. Paganism is an earth-centred religion that makes honouring the earth and living in harmony with her, the central aim in life. Through the celebration of the seasons, we can learn to be more in tune with the cycles of life. Through giving environmentally friendly offerings, we learn the importance of gratitude and awareness of our impact on the world around us. Through spending time in nature through ritual and meditation, we develop a deep relationship and connection with her and learn how to live in harmony with her ways.

My religion is arguably the most important thing in my life. It is what I spend most of my free time studying and learning about. It is the thing I am most passionate about. And it helps me to find purpose and meaning in my life. Paganism appeals to me more than any other religion because of it’s emphasis on Nature as the ultimate source of spirituality. And Heathenry is the particular strand of Paganism I practice because it values tradition, value scholarship and values ancestry.

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Heathenry 50 Challenge

For over five years, I have written blog posts on naturalpantheist.wordpress.com detailing my spiritual journey from Naturalistic Pantheism, to Paganism. Now, it is time for a new adventure on this new website, MeadandMistletoe.com.

To get started, I have created a blog challenge called Heathenry50. The challenge is to write 50 blogs, one a week for the next year (50 weeks) beginning in March. I’m encouraging fellow heathens to take part too if you want to. Each week there will be a topic to blog about that explores the basics of heathenry, our individual approach to it, and how it affects our lives. How you interpret and approach each topic is up to you. I am hopeful that if many people take part, we can share knowledge and practices to help each other, as well as provide new seekers will a range of different approaches to heathenry. Not only that, but this is a good opportunity to do some study of these different topics and discover new things we never knew before. While it’s not a requirement, I’m encouraging everyone who takes part to write blog posts of a minimum 1000 words – then by the end of the year, you will have written 50,000 words which is the equivalent of a book – a book on your own personal practice and spiritual path – how cool would that be???

Before I mention these topics, I want to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to those who came up with the “30 days of Druidry” challenge, which has been a major inspiration in the creation of this challenge.

I would also encourage you to share your blogs on social media, and please use the hashtag #Heathenry50 so others can find the posts easily. If you are taking part, let me know and I’ll link to you from my new site so others can find your posts too. I have created a graphic (see bottom of the page) for you to include on your site as a badge to show you are taking part in the challenge.

If you would like to follow me for updates on social media, the links are:

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Now, without further ado, here are the 50 topics which we will be writing our blog posts about in this challenge.

1) Why Heathenry?
2) Cosmology
3) Worldview, Animism & Divinity
4) Gods
5) Goddesses
6) Ancestors
7) Wights of the Land
8) Wights of the Home
9) The Earth Mother
10) Wyrd
11) Frith
12) Sacrifice & Reciprocity
13) Luck
14) Death & The Soul
15) The Hearth Cult
16) The Weofod/ Altar
17) Prayer
18) Ritual, Blot & Sumbel
19) Meditation
20) Runes & Divination
21) Calendar & Holy Tides
22) Tools
23) Rites of Passage
24) Magic
25) Sacred Intoxicants
26) Clothing and Symbols
27) Oaths
28) Lore and Myths
29) Ethics
30) Sacred Spaces and Sacred Places
31) Priesthood
32) Conservation and Environment
33) Hobbies and Crafts
34) Music
35) Poetry
36) Community
37) Family Life
38) Romance
39) Work
40) Health
41) Technology
42) Fun and Play
43) Spiritual Development
44) Study and Education
45) Other Paths
46) Meaning and Purpose
47) Facing Life’s Difficulties
48) Making a Difference
49) The Future of Heathenry
50) Advice to the Seeker

 

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