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Posts Tagged ‘heiti’

I See You -A Song for Odin

September 5, 2015 3 comments

To hear me sing this song for Odin, look here.

I see You in storms and I see You in wind

In the woods, carved and formed from Oak

I see You in the eyes of the homeless folk

World-weary, world-walking, wandering, and worried

I see You in my father’s eyes

The wisdom springs up through the ages behind him

I see You in the statue shaped by skillful hands

The offerings about You: splintered staff, spear, and swords

I see You in the mirror behind my own eyes

Your hand at my neck, wiring me for Your Work

I see You when I don my brown hat and black coat

I can feel Your gait in my legs as I walk

I see You in the stories I read to my child

The drawings full of life and his smile that abounds

I see You in the words that I speak to the world

By hand and by voice you have told me to tell

So hail to You, Galdrafaðr, You Who Sang the Runes’ songs

So hail to You, FimbulÞulr, You Who Inspires the Poets to verse

So hail to You, Sigrhöfundr, You Victory-Giver to the scribe, skald, and song

Question 13: Frigg, Freyja, and Earth Goddesses

July 20, 2014 1 comment

Thank you to Freki Ingela for this question:

Do you consider Frigg and Freyja to be one and the same great Earth Goddess (eg, Nerthus), or do you consider they are separate deities.

I consider Them to be separate Goddesses, and I do not consider either one a great Earth Goddess, either.  They have particular roles in Their families and tribe.  While etymologically we may be able to say They were one and the same at some point in the past, either They became two separate Goddesses or They were separate to begin with.

I really have no dog in this race.  While it would be interesting to know how the people that worshiped these Goddesses developed their language and understanding of these Goddesses, I worship Them as separate Goddesses.  I also consider Nerthus and Jörð separate Goddesses even though both are identified as Mother Earth Goddesses.

While I do believe syncretism has its place, unless I know for sure that a name is a heiti, or that this God or that Goddess actually is x  as well as y God/dess, I tend to treat the God, Goddess, Ancestor, or vaettir in question as a separate entity.  This approach is more cautious.  I would rather find out later that I have been giving a given God or Goddess more offerings than I thought I had than to find out I have been treating two Goddesses as one.

Dialogue with Pop Culture Pagans

May 19, 2013 6 comments

I am trying to have respectful dialogue on something I have intense feelings rooted in my religion, beliefs, and understanding of my Gods, Ancestors, and spirits. I understand that for those who engage in Pop Culture Paganism their feelings are probably similar if not the same towards their own Gods. I am trying to open up dialogue about something that I nearly destroyed all bridges with my family over and have dedicated my life to.

Part of my reluctance to engage is recognizing from talking with people near me, as one put it, that “You are too engrossed in your worldview to see another’s”. And you know what? That is a valid point, and one I raise to Christians when they deny the whole existence of my Gods.

I also ask ‘does my engagement actually engender frith?’ I am unsure if my writing did anything beyond preach to a choir and alienate others. I felt a compulsion to write it, out of frustration and anger at what I found to be something that I felt was insulting to my Gods, Ancestors, spirits, and I. I have issues with definitions of Paganism already, and this was one more thing that I feel that takes away from that understanding.

My point in my articles is not that Pop Culture Paganism is evil, but I admit in several places where I have weighed in that I cannot understand it. It does not make sense to me.  I don’t mind that people use statuary as stand ins for Loki, or they derive benefit from using iconography and such from another medium. I recognize that my approval probably means nothing to people engaged in religious devotion to Gods I don’t worship. I happen to use Dryad Designs’ depictions of my Gods (Odin and Freya thus far, and I’m on the lookout for Frigga) because they click with me. If Loki-as-Joker works for you, I’m fine with that. What I do not understand is the worship /of/ Joker. Or Batman.

In the article I wrote I expressed that I could not conceive of worshiping Batman or developing a devotional relationship with him, and then go on to compare and contrast it to heiti. I ask the question: “Which Batman?” among others.  Which comic do I take as an understanding of Batman? How do I verify this is indeed Batman the spirit, as opposed to a spirit wearing Batman’s face? I assume that similar methods if not the same methods I would use to check if the spirit that answered my call to Odin is Odin Himself or someone wearing His guise. However, I don’t know because it is not something I have done.

I have had revelatory experiences in my car listening to the radio. Does that mean that the artist whose song I have listened to is a prophet of this or that God, Goddess, Ancestor, or spirit? No, my Gods, Ancestors, and/or spirits used a medium to communicate with me.

In the post I recently wrote I cited my Great-Grandfather’s journey here from Holland to America at the open of WWI when the fear was that there would be an invasion. He came to a country where he had some relatives, but he could not speak the language well. He made his life here success by success and mistake by mistake. I do not understand the process that puts his life story, one of my heroes, alongside Batman’s. I attended my Great-Grandfather’s funeral and heard his life story several times over the course of my life. I saw his ship records; he has a concrete place in this world, in my Ancestors’ House, and in my life for the little amount of time I knew him in life. He sang to me songs in broken Dutch and English, and gave me a harmonica to remember him by. Batman does not and has not done these things for me. How could he?

I use Batman here because I really like this character, especially from the 90s animated series voiced by Kevin Conroy, the Dark Knight Trilogy, and the Arkham Batman games. Have I been inspired by Batman? Sure. He was a part of my early childhood and helped form it with his stories, just as Spider-Man did. I spent a good deal of time watching both with my Dad and it helped to form dialogue between us on religion, revenge, the use of power, the poor, mental health and mental health care, the difference between reality and fiction, and so many other things. I suppose where I come to the difference, beyond ‘my Great-Grandfather lived’, is that Batman never came to me in a vision, or when I thought “Man, I could really use Batman right now.” The Gods did. When I was a Catholic, Yahweh, Jesus Christ, and the Virgin Mary, as well as St. Francis de Assisi did.

A worthy point Sannion brought up is if indeed these are spirits unto themselves, then what if they would actively deny our worship, or worse, be insulted by it? I.e. Batman, I am fairly sure given my experience of Batman through the comics, movies, games, etc. would balk at being worshiped and would not answer. Perhaps that is me just lore-thumping with a comic book instead of an Edda. How does one enter into such a religious cultus and culture and keep a sense of discernment and sense of sanctity for Gods I consider to be more real than comic book ones that are worshiped?

So the challenge could be one where I would say “Okay, I don’t believe on whit of this, but I’m willing to entertain the notion, so here we go: I’ll buy a Batman action figure or print a picture and put it aside from my Gods and give it worship as I might my Gods. It won’t go on my God altar, but I’m willing to entertain this notion.” 
Then I think about it, and what that worship means to me, to my Gods, Ancestors, and spirits, and I cannot do it. I can’t go that far, and I admit that. At the risk of insulting you, and your own religious path, I don’t look at it as a negative, because I see such a thing as debasing my religion, of saying to my Gods “you are like this fictitious being to me”. It insults me, and from my perspective, and my religious training and beliefs it insults my Gods to do so.

I’m all for people worshiping whatever Gods they want to, and at the end of the day, I recognize that my voice means relatively little in the course of whether or not someone will call me wrong for worshiping Loki the way I do when they take their inspiration of worship from Marvel. They still may feel the need to say it, even if I don’t respond to it, or they may strike a dialogue with me and explain why they find the Marvel Loki more spiritually fulfilling than the Loki I know.

I think that part of the importance of my engaging with Pagans who engage Pop Culture as a source for their Gods, is to say that “I do not believe this, but I am willing at least to hear it. I won’t shout you down, but I will probably not accept it.” People may well come to me tomorrow asking for help, or I may be called upon to engage with them by my Gods, and rather than close myself off wholly to them, I think that the middling ground of “I respect your right to have your religious experiences, but I do not look at them as I will my own. If you can handle that we can continue.” If their response is “If my Gods are not welcome/respected as I respect Them I cannot treat with you” I can respect that in the larger sense; I have the exact same response to places where Loki is forbidden. I cannot go there, and cannot ask you to either. 

If your devotion to your religion and/or your Gods is that deep, let me give a heartfelt hurrah for you. I can at least nod and say “I respect your right to worship who and what you wish. I don’t understand it, I may not accept it as valid for my religion, practices, beliefs, etc. but that, ultimately, is between you and the Gods.” Hell, if your religious devotion is deep you’re doing better than a lot of so-called religious people, Pagan and not. Where I would have harsh words is if, as I have seen insisted on Tumblr, that Marvel’s Loki is the real one, and any of us who go “Wait, our understanding of Loki is based in the myths and legends and our experiences of Him through that lens” are told we are wrong. My Gods are not revealed to me in fiction.  While my understanding may, in some cases be informed by fiction, i.e. I still ‘see’ Thor with blond hair rather than red as is depicted in the myths, I do not believe They should not be placed in the same category as fiction or fictitious beings.  I cannot treat Batman, or any other superhero with the same religious reverence as my Gods, my Ancestors, or the spirits with whom I work.

Superheroes are Not Worthy of Worship

May 16, 2013 3 comments

This post was inspired by this one on Patheos by Sunweaver.

The comic book heroes I read about and watch are not worthy of worship.

If I need help I cannot call on Batman to lend me aid any more than I can call upon Wolverine to lend me strength in battle. Could a spirit become invested with that power? I could see where a spirit would be happy to piggy-back on the following certain characters in fiction get, such as those above. But it would not be Batman or Wolverine in any meaningful sense.

Batman, with all of his iterations, may have a core story, but many are so spaced apart that calling on ‘the spirit of Batman’ is chaotic. Do you get the early 1940s Batman? Adam West’s? Kevin Conroy’s? Or perhaps one of exclusively toy line Batmans that float around after a new movie, with only the costume and some items to go with it?

This is nothing like heiti. In calling upon Odin, or perhaps upon Him via one of His heiti I am calling to a particular part of Him that was known, and that corresponds to Him in some concrete way. As Runatyr I get a very different aspect of Odin, but unlike the Batman example I give above, Runatyr is still Odin, not reimagined,  or, as in the case of Batman 52, rebooted, but simply focused upon in a different way. Rather than focusing upon His qualities and Being as a God of inspiration, for instance, in praying to and calling upon Him as Runatyr I am desiring a connection to the Runemeister, to the God of Runes. I cannot confuse this with another spirit; it is utterly Odin’s name, likeness, and Being in conjunction with this heiti. There is no ‘alternate universe’ so to speak, ala Universe 52, where Runatyr is the essence of Odin and not His heiti.

Okay, well, we’re talking about heroes and superheroes. So what about Egil Skallagrimsson or Olvir of Egg or, more close to home, those of our Disir or Väter who we know as our recent Dead?  Batman is as worthy of veneration and worship as my Great-Grandfather?  Batman, while I find him a really cool comic character and many of his qualities good to emulate, is not and was not a flesh and blood person.  The story of the Dark Knight movies, while fun to watch and in many cases a good meditation on justice, desperation and a good deal of other themes, is not the story of how my Great-Grandfather sailed into America with few possessions and laid down new roots here with the few family members already settled here.  Batman, while a human-like story, is not a human story.  Likewise, my Great-Grandfather’s story is neither allegory nor metaphor, but history and the lore of my family.  I can visit his grave; I attended his funeral.  I may tell his story as a metaphor or allegory, especially if I find the telling the story may help another, but Great-Grandfather’s story is his life retold, not a reimagined character.  He embodies the story, even as I tell it, even if I miss details, or intentionally focus on others.  When I tell Great-Grandfather’s story, it is not some New 52 Great-Grandfather, but he as he has come to me in understanding from my family, from my interactions with him, and my understanding of his story, its places in my life and how it can touch others.

Our heroes are real.  These people, our Pagan and Heathen heroes and martyrs are real.  They lived.  Their stories reach out to us, many lives ending in supreme amounts of pain in devotion to their Gods.  These, these are people, Holy People worthy of worship and remembrance .  I can raise a horn to these People, write a paean to Them, hail them as Ancestors.  These are people I can look to for greatness, for devotion, as exemplars.

Question 3: Odin and His Heiti

March 3, 2013 6 comments

From Loki’s Bruid:

I’d like to hear your perspective on Odin Himself actually, perhaps on some of His lesser known aspects. Lots of people get the Allfather or the Asa King, but what about some of His lesser known or called on heiti?

Truth be told, with anywhere between 188-200 heiti, (and I have seen the number bumped up to 300 in some sources) there’s no way I know Him through any more than a few of His lesser-known heiti.  Keep in mind that as I write this I am just starting to find heiti that might fit or fit best for my experiences of Him.  It may be that heiti are simply a hindrance for one person and a door to deeper understanding for another, and I leave that between the worshiper and Odin.  For me, the heiti are helpful in that they provide a door or window to understanding Him, to at least put a name or title to this part of Him that I have experienced.

In terms of Odin’s heiti I look at it very much as experiencing different aspects of the same God; Yggr (The Terrible) still is Odin, at the end of the experience, but He is a ‘face’ of Odin that I do not, mercifully, experience very often.  I could see Hóvi (The High) may have come to me while I was writing the November posts to Him in the Hávamál style.  When I experience the Alföðr (Allfather) it is, for me, Odin Who is primarily concerned with humanity and getting us where we, perhaps personally but more collectively, where we need to go.  Then there is Odin as my Father and Leash-holder, the heiti which sticks out to me that is most apt for this being Haptaguð (Fetter God).  These latter two are the aspects of Odin I see the most.

Yet, underneath all of these heiti is Odin, and all of these heiti are also not just descriptors, in my understanding.  Much as I am Sarenth Odinsson I am also the name given to me by my birth parents.  I am also ‘love’ and ‘sweetheart’ and ‘Dad’.  I am in a different role when I meet others as Sarenth, generally speaking, just as Odin-as-Yggr came to me when I was hanging on Yggdrasil a few years ago.  That is an aspect in which He has truly earned that heiti.  He is the Hanged God, and there was a sense of terror of Him in me that I can only describe as holy terror.

I will never truly know all of my best friends’ personalities.  I do not know my friends’ as child or mother, for instance, and there are personality dynamics that will never be ours, ways of seeing one another that will not be ours, at the least, in this lifetime.  Even as a friend I will never fully know them.  Our Gods will never fully reveal Themselves to us in Their totality.  I think to the tale of how Zeus revealed Himself to His lover and she burnt to ash at the power of His Presence.  I do not think we can handle the full-tilt power of the Gods revealed, at the least, not Gods like Odin.  Perhaps local Gods, i.e. of rivers or forests may be different, but in this too I have doubt.  Heiti, from my perspective, give us ways of understanding our Gods in different forms, functions, and relationships that They have to share with us, and that They take on.  With all that said, I’ll write about some of Odin’s heiti I have encountered, and my experiences with Odin in context of those heiti.

Karl: The Old Man

There are times where Odin comes to me and He is angry or grumpy with me about a misstep I have taken or a project I am lagging on.  There are times where I call Him, and I say this with all due respect to Him, jokingly, the Old Man.  Sometimes this is said in a more joking tone, others, a more serious, but there underneath it all is reverence.  I figure if I am getting scolded I am getting off easy.  It turns out that one of heiti translated to Old Man is Karl.  This is, for me, one of His less severe forms, and one He frequently shows to myself and others.  It is the Grandfather or Father Who, while annoyed with you and wanting to bat you about the head and legs, takes patience in stride and guides you along the right way.  Sometimes He gets you where you need to go by grabbing your ear and dragging you there  (or tugging my leash in this case), if you make yourself a nuisance.  I find this most often shows up with those who are just coming to know Him or have a familiar relationship with Him.  This is not to say that the Old Man cannot or will not be severe, but it is not the kind of severity and fear I have found with Yggr, for instance.

Yggr: The Terrible

The only time I have really encountered Odin in this form that I can remember is when I was hanging on Yggdrasil to take in the Runes as few years ago.  It was under His guidance that I do this, and that I fast for nine days, drinking only what would keep my body going and alive without sleeping into issues with my diabetes.  When I hung, especially long hours with the rope wrapped around my leg, there He was.  He stank to high hell, He was half-Dead, it seemed to me at the time. His voice was as cold as His body, both as the grave.  To get an idea of the fear I felt I feel I have to resort to poetic or expressive language because there is no real communicating the sheer fear He imbued in me, even as I was facing my own potential physical Death.  He is The Terrible, the Terrible sacrifice that must be made for power, for the Worlds to go on, that sacrifice of Self-to-Himself that is recounted in the Hávamál.  He is Dead and Living, has seen and experienced the Ginnungagap, and come back through, and yet, He is always there, Hanging eternally.  It makes me shiver just remembering.

Hóvi: The High

When I am writing poetry about Him, especially Hávamál-style verse, this is the heiti of Odin I tend to experience.  Sometimes it is the mere brush of His hand or cloak, sometimes it is Him standing over top of me like a master scribe to an apprentice doing dictation.  I do not tend to get as much sensory information, for lack of better terms/more descriptive language, than I have with Yggr or Karl.  It is more a feeling of Him standing behind me, or His hands or breath pouring into the crown of my head as I write, down onto the keyboard or onto the page.

Haptaguð: The Fetter God

This is a part of Odin that will probably never leave me.  Odin holds my leash, as I am His godatheow, and sometimes that hold is slack, and sometimes it is quite tight.  As with Hóvi, I do not experience this heiti of Odin’s so much with all of my senses, but as more of a Presence, and a tugging around my neck, particularly around my apple or at times along my crown.  There are times when I feel the Presence of this heiti stronger than others, such as when I may be wandering into danger and there is a sudden ‘jerk’ along my neck.  There are other times where His Presence in this heiti manifests as a word or a command, sharp and attention grabbing and I find myself following it before I ask “What?” or “Why?”  When this latter experience happens it is unmistakably Him, and I find myself compelled to obey.

Father

This, for me, is probably the hardest to write about because it is the most personal.  This is Odin at His most personable with me.  There are many ways where He shows me affection, some overt and some not.  Words of encouragement have come from Him when I have been at my lowest, from a much-needed “You can do this, son; this would not be in front of you if it were impossible” to just a feeling of His Presence that is nothing short of comforting and loving.  While Odin is, very often, a stern, rough, demanding God, just as Freya has Her aspects of Warrior, there are aspects of Odin that are less commented on or written about.  His sternness does not just ‘go away’ in His Father aspect with me, but it is not as severe as, say Haptaguð tugs my leash.  It is not the kind of holy terror I experience with Him as Yggr, or the master/pupil relationship of Him as Hóvi.  Just as Yggr contains this part of Him, so too does Odin-as-Father contain Yggr, and it is there, if I look hard enough or if He cares to show me it for one reason or another.  Regardless, I feel a love there of father for son.  There are times I wonder if this is even a taste of the depth of His fierce, powerful love for His Godly Children.

I find Him His most patient with me personally in this aspect of our relationship.  That is not to say the leash slackens or the demands do not grow; not at all.  There are times where words fail in the joy that I feel at the knowing I am one of His, not despite the challenges He puts before me, but because He feels I can handle them.  Or that particular lesson needs to knock me on my ass enough times for me to get that it is not for me.  Odin can be, and may well be in our personal relationship calculating, everything being pushed towards one goal or another.

There are times that His Presence as Father is just that: a Presence, one letting me know I am in His thoughts or that He is near.  Sometimes it is a vision of Him, sitting or standing with me, at times with a hat.  At times He wears His long white hair down, and at others it is braided in a tight style.  His mode of dress when He arrives sometimes seems to do with the whole message He is conveying, whether it is excitement, warmth, disappointment, anger.  Others times when He comes to me in one guise or another, it is there as a kind of convenience so I get the message and pay attention to it.

 

These words only touch what I experience.  I can no more give an accurate understanding of Yggr than I can of Hóvi.  The experience is, in the end, that of each and every one of us who experiences Odin, in His many heiti, or simply as He, Odin, presents Himself to us.  What I have written here may serve you, or someone you know no better than a signpost, or worse, a roadblock.  My hope is that the writing I’ve done here will help deepen others’ relationships with Him, provide signposts, show where there may be similarities in experience, or at the least provide comfort in that each and every day, every interaction, I am getting to know my God.

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