Patreon Topic 12: Sacred Kingship and Heathenry

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

Note: Until now I have referred to folks by their level of Patreon support. For some of Patreon patrons I will now refer to them by a name I have permission to use. This makes it easier to organize and find posts. Thank you to all my supporters on Patreon and to all of my readers!

From StreakingFate comes this question:

“For a topic idea, have you covered sacred kingship yet? Historically in Heathenry, how it is seen present day in Heathenry if it is, or both.”

Before I begin to tackle this question it is important to talk about what we mean by Heathenry. There are a lot of cultural wells from which we can drink. Norse Heathenry is one, Anglo-Saxon another, Frankish another, and so on. Then there are folks that mix their paths eclectically or syncretically, neither of which are wrong, but they tend to be different approachs. Myself, I am primarily a Heathen whose sources lie in Icelandic, Norse, and Germanic sources with a smattering of Anglo-Saxon. My approach to the question of “Is Frigg and Freyja a single Goddess or separate Goddesses?” is to treat Them as separate, with Frigg an Aesir and Freyja a Vanir. This may seem like an odd point of departure, but this matters in terms of how we understand the Gods, and how we understand the impact of lore, including myth and archaeology, on our various religions.

Since I am not writing from a primarily Anglo-Saxon, Frankish, etc perspective, there are a lot of potential answers to this question. I cannot tell you what the Anglo-Saxon Heathen answer is to this question because that is not my primary framework any more than the Frankish Heathen is.

I have not covered sacred kingship much on this blog. It simply does not enter much into my understanding of my place with the Gods, Ancestors, or vaettir. I am a goði, a spiritual specialist who is both a chieftain and a priest so far as how we in Mímisbrunnr Kindred use the term.

Let us dig into what is meant by sacred kingship. The Encyclopedia Britannic has a great overview of the concept of sacred kingship, though by no means is it the most detailed or probably accurate overview specific to a given culture. In its article, the Encyclopedia lists three basic forms of a sacred kingship:

(1) the possessor of supernatural power, (2) the divine or semidivine king, and (3) the agent of the sacred.

I do not serve a sacred kingship role as it is often seen in the Fisher King archetype, and only small Heathen, eg Theodish, or Northern Tradition kingdoms, eg The Kingdom of Asphodel, as I have read and understood, hold to such ideas.

Now, if we depart from kingship and dig into sacral status, then this is something most Heathens believe in. However, it is quick to spot that in modern Heathenry that sacral status is not beholden to only a few. If anything differs greatly from historical Heathenry, it is that the goði is not the main arbiter of a community either in terms of how the community runs that they are head of, or that they have inherently more spiritual power than others who live in the community they head. Everyone has access to power through engaging in specific work, eg seið work, spirit work, working with óðr, and so on. A given person may or may not be ‘wired’ for the work, but that does not mean that you have to be born into a certain bloodline to access these spiritual techniques or engage with spiritual power effectively.

Another signficant departure, due in no small part to how diasporic the Heathen communities have become from their historical roots in America and over time from the ancient Heathen cultures we take inspiration and root in, we do not have the kind of passed-on roles that we might have if they had survived until today. Perhaps, had ancient Heathen cultures not been converted, seiðkona and seiðmaðr would have kept up their work they would have passed on the experiences and understanding they had. Had the ancient Heathen cultures not converted, perhaps spiritual techniques like the varðlokkur noted on but not, unfortunately, written out, in the Saga of Erik the Red may have survied until today. We cannot predict how these roles would have come down to us. We can look at the functions they served in the communities they were part of, look at how our own communities are organized, and whether they are still useful to us, or, even more important, if this is even something our Gods are asking to take up and if we are willing to.

From my observation sacred kingship is largely seen as something belonging to the past. This is hardly surprising given America’s history, let alone 1/3 of Americans rent their home, and many Americans who do own land do not own more than than an acre, let alone land in enough acres to justify any kind of kingdom.

Were there sacred kings in Norse or Icelandic culture? Not in the sense of a divine figure akin to a pharaoh of Kemet, no. Not god-kings. Were kings and chieftains seen as particularly spiritually powerful or potent? Yes. So the 1st and 3rd definitions in the Encyclopedia article were certainly part of ancient Norse culture. What about the 2nd? The Ynglings, Ingvaones, Skilfingar, and the Fairhairs were said to be able to trace their ancestry to Freyr, the caste system to Heimdall or Odin (depending on whether you believe Rig is the former or latter), and Frosti was said to be the legendary founder of Skjalf’s line.

Given the practical and political obstacles before it, I am unsure any beyond a few small groups are going to pick up the notion of sacred kingship.

Patreon Topic 7: Jotun Worship

If you want to submit a topic you would like me to write on for this blog or my Patreon, sign up for the Uruz or Thurisaz level or above here on my Patreon.

It looks like I missed this last month and for that I apologize. From my first Raiðo supporter comes this topic:

“Jotun worship and how it is reviled by the heathen community at large. Would be interesting to explore from your perspective about this contentious issue.”

To be blunt if I cared about the Heathen community at large there would be a great many things I would be doing -or not doing, sometimes week-by-week as the communities can rarely agree on anything across the board. When it comes right down to it, our own cultus is just that. No one’s cultus is going to look like another’s. Even for those of us in the Mímisbrunnr Kindred, our hearth cultus looks quite different from each other. This is a necessary and good thing. Each of us carry different relationships with our Gods, even Those Gods we each worship.

To some degree the revulsion expressed in many places in the Heathen communities towards the worship of Jötnar is Christian baggage. To another degree in some Heathen religions, namely here thinking of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry as I understand it, these Beings are not in any way understood as positive. However, these are not Jötnar, but Etins, and while They may be related Beings/concepts, the way each religion relates to Them is not. I am primarily a Norse/Icelandic-based Heathen, so my understanding of Jötnar is nuanced whereas I have only seen a rather black-and-white understanding of Etins from the Anglo-Saxon Heathen perspective. I am happy to be corrected on this.

I will not spill much digital ink to whether reactions to/against either Jötnar is Christian baggage. I have done that plenty enough in other posts. My perspective is that worship of the Jötnar is supported by the lore given the few instances of worship recounted in our sources includes at least a Jötun and Her Sister, even if we ignore that Jörð Herself is the Earth. Even if we did not have this evidence in the lore, given how little evidence we have of cultus for Gods aside from Óðinn, Þórr, and Freyr, I would worry very little about it. I am not living in ancient Norse times, and my course within my religion is largely driven from interaction with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. The lore and archaeology serve as maps. They are not my relationships with the Holy Powers or the work I have done and answers I have gained from divination and direct experience with Them.

Since I am a Universalist Tribalist Heathen, while I believe anyone can come to the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir regardless of race, background, ethnicity, etc, I also care little for opinions of those outside of my hearth, Kindred, or tribe, aka my innangarð. Part and parcel of my worldview is that Jötnar are, broadly speaking, one of three sacred tribes, the other two being Æsir and Vanir.

Regional cultus has always been an active component of polytheist religions, and I have no interest in policing others’ religion or practice within it. If others do not worship Jötnar then I feel they could be casting aside or denying quite beautiful, powerful, and deep relationships, but that is their call to make. That being said, I find it hard to hear praise for Odin out of one side of a Heathen’s mouth and hate for His Blood-Brother out the other, but they can take that up with Odin. If I hear it in my presence that is one thing; I cannot abide it, and it is frið-breaking for me to be in a place where my Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir are unwelcome or reviled. Otherwise, I will generally have a live and let live attitude, as my ways are just that.

Patreon Topic 3: Jötun Worship

If you want to submit a topic for me to explore on my blog, sign up at the Uruz level or above on my Patreon.

From my first Raiðo-level Patreon supporter: “Jotun worship and how it is reviled by the heathen community at large.”

Jötun worship is, so far as how I practice, the same kind of cultus I give to the Aesir. Offerings of water, food, wine, sacred herbs, and so on as appropriate to the God.

How that cultus is expressed depends on what the context is. For our family prayers, we do not separate between the Aesir, Vanir, and Jötnar except that we tend to pray to Gods of the same tribe one after the other, and do not put Gods who are known to have animosity close together. For example, Loki is nowhere near Heimdall on our vé, though we worship both Gods. Neither are near each other in our rote prayers, either.

I think that, for a great many American Heathens who take issue with worship of Jötnar, there may be some basic issues at root. Keep in mind my views on things come primarily out of Norse sources with some bits from Anglo-Saxon and ancient Germanic. An Anglo-Saxon or Friisian Heathen is likely to have a very different cosmological outlook and placement for the Jötnar. Etin in Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, from what I gather, are looked at only as destructive or damaging. That being said, some of the roots at folks’ issue with worship of the Jotnar are:

1. The Jötnar are seen as enemies of the Gods. Jotnar, for those who see Them this way, are utterly opposed to cosmic order.

2. The Jötnar are looked at as agents of or embodying chaos, cosmic disorder, upon whom the Aesir and Vanir wage war to keep that at bay.

3. The Jötnar are believed to be too wild, raw, or alien to us to be trusted to be worshiped, honored, or proptiated.

For those for whom these root issues apply it follows as a matter of course you would not wish to worship, honor, or propitiate Beings opposed to your Gods not only in terms of allegiance, but existential threat to Them and thus, to humankind.

Given what we know of the Jötnar from the sources of lore we have Jötnar were at times openly worshiped. Even if They were not historically worshiped it would not be outside of reason to begin to worship Them. Many of the named Jotnar are or carry some aspect of the natural world with Them, while others are understood as rivaling the Aesir with Their power. Skaði, for instance, single-handedly marched on Asgarð to demand weregild for the death of Her Father Thjazi -and got it. She became part of the Aesir’s council and was wed to Njorðr. She is a Goddess who is Her own.

My view is that to not engage with the Jötnar is to completely cut out a third of the Gods. My life has been deeply blessed to have these Gods in my life and that of my family, Kindred, tribe, and people.

The #DoMagick Challenge Day 17

Teiwaz

Teiwaz (Wikimedia Commons)

Today I did galdr with Teiwaz.

I cleansed with Sacred Fire after making the Fire Prayer.  I settled deep, deep into meditation headspace today.  I had done a brief but potent bit of exercising just before coming home and jumping into doing the Runework.  I may repeat this because the result was several moments of connection with the Rune and a kind of disconnect from myself.  Not in a “I have lost myself” but more of a “getting lost in the Rune moreso than usual”.

The first round of galdr brought the experience of The Binding of Fenris, of Fenris biting off Tyr’s hand, with myself being in both roles one after the other.  It was intense, and to this end I will say no more.  The next part of the first round brought with it the holding of a spear before a wall, before a town with farmsteads behind.  Not merely standing, but seeing a threat coming and readying to do something about it, spear in one hand and shield in the other alongside fellows forming a wall of shields and spears.  The last part of the first round was a sword being unsheathed, a spear being held for combat, grit teeth and flashing, then bloodied steel.

The second round of galdr brought with it the feeling of the home, of doing well in the community.  The next part of the second round I experienced a holmgang to defend myself in a matter.  What seemed to matter in what Teiwaz showed me here was not the end, but that I stood up in the sacred space and took to my duty.  I did not see how the fight ended up.  In the final galdr of this round I was sitting as a chieftain in the hall, a fight ready to break out between two families.  It was the act of putting away the swords I was meant to see: the judicious use of violence and force, and the force that can make these things come forth or retreat.

The third round of galdr was very heady.  I fell into and out of being able to articulate what I was experiencing.  I think the closest I can come to is experiencing the meaning of it, God or Gods.  Like dipping into the current of meaning and power there.  As I galdred further, this connected feeling swelled and I was being overwhelmed by the Rune.  It was like swimming in Its power, Its Being.  As I finished the heady feeling stopped crashing over me, and I slowly came back to myself.

I did my prayers of thanks to Rúnatýr and the Runevaettir.  I cleansed with the candle and prayed prayers of thanks to the Eldest Ancestor.  I am still a bit blown away by Teiwaz’s response.

Link to the Daily Ritual for the Challenge.

#DoMagick

Dancing

The road rushes past

My cigar glows in my hand

The rainvaettir come down, a billion upon billion rattling dancers

The road, the car, all full of the sound of Their feet

 

The road rushes past and I see it

The first lightning bolt of the season here

Arc through the sky, behind the clouds

A silhouetted dancer

Whose drumming partner pounds and the sky shakes

 

Tendrils of smoke out the window and up to you all

The Thunderbird People

The rainvaettir

The stormvaettir

The Jotuns of storms

The Spirit of Storms

Odin

Thor

 

I call to you and say your names as Midgard fills with stomps with billions of feet

As the skies split with the fury of dancers and beating of wings

As the wind shakes and the clouds let loose the crowds

As the drumming thunderers crash and clash

The Worlds are alive and here

The Worlds are alive and there

and I am thankful to bear witness

Thank You, and Hail Loki on Your Day

Thank you for the telling of truths

And for keeping us in mirth

For reminding us what is serious

And what will pass us by

For what remains to us in solemnity

And what is worth making fun

For when things are worth fighting for

And when using your head is best

For things done for kicks and grins

And things done for duty

 

Hail Loki, Scar-Lip and Bright Flame!

Hail Loki, Consort and Lover, Fighter Fierce!

Hail Loki, Hearth-fire Keeper and Thought-Fetterer!

Hail Loki!