Patreon Topic 46: On Housevaettir

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From Alexis comes this topic:

“Have you talked about house vættir?”

Not in so many words until your topic on this post and Q&A request here.

Are the housevaettir landvaettir? Yes, and They are separate. From the Q&A:

There are a few reasons I make a distinction.

First, the house is an entity unto itself marked by the boundaries of its walls and outer doors.


Second, our modern houses are generally distinct from the land they sit on or in. Very few homes anymore are made with materials directly sourced on site.

Third, the means of relating to home vs land are different in how we treat and understand ourselves in those spaces. 

Our relationships with our home are fundamentally different to ‘the outside’. Even where there is bleedover between the two boundaries of húsvaettir and landvaettir I find there is usually some distinction in relationship with us.

March 2021 Q&A 2

Are the beings that live on/with the land landvaettir? They can be. That answer also implies we are also vaettir ourselves. It is true though, we are vaettir. We are not becoming vaettir and we do not become vaettir when we die; we are vaettir whatever the condition of our líki (body) or other soul parts.

So the distinction here is that we ourselves are not landvaettir until we join with the land. Likewise with húsvaettir. We are close, sometimes even indistinct if you are taking a bird’s eye view, yet we are still distinct from each other. I am no more a rock than I am separate from the land.

Húsvaettir are more intimate with us and vice versa than a lot of vaettir. After all, we live in and with Them. We see Them sometimes more than our own extended families, so having a good relationship with Them is all to our mutual good.

Each vaettr within the home is a vaettr unto itself, and yet, like with our own bodies and the billions of cells that make us up, as we constitute a whole so does the collective húsvaettir. If we look at the home itself as a composite Being, we can clearly see the idea of the soul matrix applies to it.

The materials that make up the house is the líki (body), the air that circulates through the home is its önd (breath), the heat and cool the lá (heat), the litr (color/blooming hue/goodly hue) would be how the interior and exterior are lit and the emotions the painting of the alls and decorations bring. How are its hugr (mind/memories/spirit) formed? The decorations are part of that too, especially photographs, the layout of special places including the hearth or what serves for it, the places shrines are placed, and the bedrooms. The munr (mood/mind/logic) is the flow of the home’s layout and the layout itself, and I also see it in the way that the guts of the house are arranged for flow of information such as the cable and ethernet lines. The hamr is the second skin, the spiritual form of the house. Perhaps it appears warm and inviting to us who live in it, but it could just as easily look foreboding to unwelcome spirits.

What might its fylgja and kinfylgja be? Those vaettir that it descends from, the constituent Beings of wood, metal, and the Dead that are Ancestors of the large amount of oil-derived products (if it is a modern Western home), or whatever is used to build the home. Its hamingja (group luck) is made with those who live with/within It and whom It helps to keep well. If the home’s occupants actively seek to make oaths with It before occupation then keeping Its part of them increases Its own hamingja. Its megin is felt in how it welcomes those who live with/in It in, and how it stands up to storms and other occurences in Its life. Its ørlög is laid down when it is made, and its Urðr unfolds from here as it ages.

Here’s a fun thought to think on: if we understand that the house itself is distinct and separate from us, possessing its own soul matrix whether occupied or not, then what are we when we live inside a house?

In a sense we are distinct from the house in that we can pack up, leave, and never come back at any point in time. The húsvaettir cannot do that. We die, and the house still stands. Perhaps someone else will come along to call it home. Yet, without a home we as humans are understood as missing something vital. So, in this sense a house is a distinct entity from us, and so too are the húsvaettir and landvaettir.

Mind you, I am not saying we need to have a rooted-to-the-ground home to have a home or that this understanding of húsvaettir is exclusive to American stick built homes. There are plenty of examples of homes that can be carried on your back or that of an animal or vehicle, whether a tent, a yurt, a tiny home on a trailer, a camper, or RV. What matters it that this is a place we call and relate to as a home, as our home. As with a lot of things in Heathenry, it comes down to the relationships we are engaged in.

My relationships with the húsvaettir are expressed in similar ways to those of other vaettir. We have a space for the húsvaettir on a vé that They share with our Ancestors, the févaettir (moneyvaettir aka money spirits), and Andvari. They get offers the same as other vaettir, usually water, but also on herbs and food on occasion. As with other vaettir, engaging respectfully, and with respectful lines of communication is the best way to developing a good relationship with the húsvaettir.

Patreon Topic 44: On Wolf Cultus

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From Maleck Odinsson comes this topic:

“What does Wolf Cultus look like to you?”

The short answer is that Wolf Cultus looks a lot like my other cultus does. I have places set aside on our family hearth Gods’ vé for the Wolf Gods, spaces on the Ancestors’ vé for the Wolf Ancestors, and spaces on the animalvaettir vé for Wolf and wolves. They each receive offerings, usually water, and occasionally food and/or alcohol like our other Ginnreginn.

I wear a large necklace of Úlfr, the Old Norse word for Wolf and a Míkilvaettr (Big/Mighty spirit) alongside my Valknut for Óðinn and my Mjölnir for Þórr. I carry representations of wolves and úlfheðinn on me otherwise, both as reminders of our relationship and as connection points with Them. I make regular prayers to Them, both in our home during our regular prayers and outside the home.

The way I engage with Wolf Cultus every day looks, acts, is lived, and is in relationship with the Wolf Ginnreginn in ways that are carried a lot like my others are. There are things that I do because of these relationships in addition to cultus. For instance, I donate and write on behalf of causes that specifically have to do with issues around wolves, such as the bullshit wolf hunts that have been called for in the Michigan legislature. A good number of the Gods that are part of my various cultus all tend to have wolf connections -Óðinn, Angrboða, Skaði, Ullr, Hela, Fenris, Lykeios, Lupa, Anpu, and Wepwawet. Small wonder that my hearth cultus does not change much then since so many are connected with or are wolves in some way Themselves!

Does Wolf Cultus involve howling? Sometimes. My son doesn’t like to, but my daughter sure does. So, when she and I do prayers specifically to the Wolf Ginnreginn on our own, we howl. A lot of the other more noticeably wolf-oriented things do not actually occur in the hearth cultus. A lot of that occurs for me in spiritual connection work, but most of that is not during regular cultus of prayers and offerings. Sometimes it occurs on its own. It might be hamfara (faring forth in hamr), or it might be some spiritual work with a group of vaettir, such as in Maleck’s own Pack Magic which you can read about here. So far as I practice Wolf Cultus it is distinct from spiritwork or magic since the point of cultus is to worship rather than to engage in spiritwork or magic.

Private Wolf Cultus rituals, though, look a bit different. I own and work with the vaettr of a wolf that was prepared by Lupa, a wonderful Pagan artist. You can find her work here, here, and here. This wolf and I have bonded on a fairly deep level over the years, and he reflects at least some my inward soul outwardly. He is in a place of honor most days underneath our Gods’ vé, and when I put him on the connection with my wolf self, the Wolf Gods, the Wolf Ancestors, and wolfvaettir is powerful, and fairly instant. Whether I am wearing him or not, when I engage in Wolf Cultus on my own we are engaged in it together. When I do not do Wolf Cultus with him present, sometimes I am engaging with one of the wolf items I carry on my person. It is sometimes hard to write about, not only because of how personal it is.

Sometimes it is hard to write about because of how visceral the connections are, how your senses light up with the power and impact of one of the Wolf Gods making Their Presence known in ways that hit you in every bit of your Soul Matrix. Sometimes it is hard to write about because you have Wolf Ancestors that you connect with, and there is such a feeling of elation, joy, pack that is hard to put into words that do it justice. Other times it is hard to write about because you really are just reaching for words to describe raw feelings, or experiences that are close to the chest and you keep private. Even here my cultus starts out the same: prayers, offerings, and a few moments to connect. Breathing slow, steady breaths at first, perhaps quickening or lengthening if getting into trance is called for. Whether the trance comes on, the Presences are felt, or if there is work to do, being thankful for the connection with Them. Then the prayers of thanks, and prepping to get on with the remainder of the day.

Deity Work v Being a Polytheist

Rotwork wrote a post here exploring the idea of deity work that I will be pushing back on, and adding my own thoughts as I go.

Before I begin I want to be clear: I respect Rotwork a lot. I get that a lot of online spaces are cesspits, and produce a lot of toxic ideas that then get circulated. Those need to be pushed back on. That being said, I am going to push back a bit on some of the things they have talked about regarding deity work. There’s enough in here that I agree with in some respects that I feel like I am going to have dig into it a bit to be clear on where I disagree.

After exploring some of the ideas I posted on their Twitter feed and talking with friends, I find much of my issue is with baseline definitions. I understand deity work as any work assigned to you by a God. I often place deity work under the catchall term spiritwork, that is, work done on behalf of, for, or with vaettir (spirits), Ancestors, and/or Gods. I do not see prayers, offerings, or any of the normal praxis of a polytheist aka exoteric religion, as being deity work/spiritwork per se.

To quote what I said in the Twitter feed:

When I think of ‘deity work’ I think of stuff assigned to you by the Gods. Not the basic stuff of *being* polytheist like prayers, offerings, etc. Being a spiritworker is a *job* not the baseline of being a polytheist. Hopefully I’m making sense here.

When I use the word spiritwork, spiritworker, and/or vaettirvirkr that means the person is doing work with, for, or on behalf of the Gods, Ancestors, and/or vaettir. Real simple equation to my mind. In the case of ‘working with’ a God it’s to Their end even if it does benefit us.

Even in the cases where I got ‘hired out’ by Óðinn to do things for other Gods it was still in service to Him. When Óðinn came into my life like a whirlwind I could have said no, and did not.

Here is another point of contention: deity work is dangerous. It is dangerous in no small part for many of the reasons they claim it is safe, and thinking on it in the same terms. Gods are as dangerous as They are sacred. Gods that stop plagues can start them, eg Apollo. Gods that can control whether or not you win a battle can make sure you get killed so you come to Valhöll, eg Óðinn. The Gods of Fire that warm our houses have the ability to burn down forests. Our Gods are, to paraphrase CS Lewis, ‘not tame lions’. However, that does not mean that They’re in our lives just to fuck with us or do us harm. I find that, if your life is being flipped upside down by a God entering it then it probably needed to be -though there’s exceptions to every rule since Gods are individual Beings, and so are we.

The Gods do have limits -clearly. Óðinn is not omniscient, frequently refers to other Beings in the stories we have for Their knowledge and wisdom, eg Vafþruðnir and Mímir. This does not make me a selfish asshole. Further, Óðinn is a known oathbreaker. It means that I clearly know my lore and that not every God (or Ancestor or vaettr) should have trust extended unconditionally. Some Gods have very little to do with humanity since They have whole sections of Creation to deal with, deserving no less of our respect and worship. Some Gods are not the gentlest or even the most caring towards humanity. Again, They are deserving of respect and worship even if an individual polytheist chooses not to worship Them. Maybe if you are not interacting with, say, a river God in Their river then They have no reason to really pay you mind. Again, no They are no less deserving of respect or worship. You may just not be as interested in worshiping Them, or They in interacting with you, if you do not live on or near Their river.

Now, I will heartily agree that when it comes to deity work we are not working with the Gods as equals. We simply cannot. We are working for Them, which is why I refer to being a spiritworker as a job. It’s work. However, deity work is not worship.

Worship is the baseline of being a polytheist. It is what each and every polytheist should be doing in whatever their capacity is. It is the action of being a polytheist. Belief in the Gods is the baseline choice that any polytheist should hold. Note, I am not saying perfect faith or any of the other cluttering Christian notions regarding that. Belief in the Gods is a choice, a recognition. Faith is an emotion, transitory at best sometimes. I do not always have faith, but so long as I am a polytheist I have to have belief that the Gods are real and that I worship Them.

I have no disagreement with their bullet points, excepting that the Gods are mostly everywhere. It is too wide a point for me. I do not think that Óðinn or Loki are everywhere. I have no indication They are from either the lore available or my own experiences of Them. It is still monumentally stupid to be two-faced before our Gods, though.

The next point bears some digging into.

“But how do I know if I’m contacting the right entity?”

Now when it comes to addressing prayers to Gods, so long as you’re using the correct names and epithets your prayers are very likely being heard by the God in question. Now when you’re hearing a response of some kind? When you are looking for feedback or input? This is where doing your due diligence is necessary.

I will refer to my Brother Jim Two Snakes on this one: Spiritual Accounting. His breakdown is this: (M+C³)xR = V. M is messages, C is confirmations, R is results, and V is verified. Lore, divination, and community input are the three legs of this stool. Why would we need this? Because we can be mistaken. We can think we are talking to a God and getting input back and its a sock puppet we are fooling ourselves with or a spirit using that form to get attention/energy from us. Sometimes spirits lie. Sometimes we get stuff wrong, or we are not in a good place to experience the Ginnreginn (Holy/Mighty Powers) well at that moment. Working with Spiritual Accounting is a way to make sure that we get as much as we can right.

Unless you are looking for or are getting some kind of response though, this may not even be an active concern for you. Not every polytheist is, nor should be expected to be, a spiritual specialist whether as a spiritworker, priest, or otherwise. It is perfectly acceptable to worship the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits in whatever capacity you can, and live by your life’s philosophy. You may get responses, or you may not; that is not the measure of a polytheist.

I started off my journey as a Pagan with 5 salt crystals in a thimble-sized glass jar. Size of the sacred space your worship takes place in, the offerings you make, and the prayers you make all can change over time. To my mind, these questions are key to the measure of a polytheist regardless of whether you are an individual worshiping at your hearth the size of an Altoid tin, or with a large community the midst of a stone circle:

Are you worshiping, praying to, offering to, and speaking with the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits with respect? Are you worshiping, making prayers, and making offerings in ways that are respectful and in alignment with the religion, traditions, and individual Gods, Ancestors, and spirits you worship? If you are doing deity work, are you doing whatever work you have assigned in a manner your Gods find respectful? Not respect as I understand it. Respect as your Gods, Ancestors, and spirits understand it.

Are you living in good and respectful reciprocity with the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits? That, in my understanding, is the measure of a polytheist. Your worship, and if you have spiritwork, your work, may not look like what others are doing. You are a person in relationships with Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and communities. Whatever it is, however it is expressed, worship in respect to the best of your ability. If you have it, do your deity work and/or spiritwork in respect to the best of your ability. No one could reasonably expect more.

Patreon Topic 43: On Hel

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From Alexis comes this topic:

“I would really appreciate reading what you have to say about Hel, if you have cultus with her. I don’t see a lot of heathens talk about her.”

Hela is a Goddess I have worshiped for quite a while. I began to worship Her some time after I began to worship Loki, so it has been about thirteen years or so.

Most of my early exposure to Her worship when I became a Heathen and Northern Tradition Pagan was through Raven Kaldera and Galina Krasskova and their books. Few Heathens have talked about Her worship in most forms of media I have engaged with, though thankfully that is changing. Recently I saw Wolf the Red’s Youtube video on Her. If you browse the tags here on my blog you will run into no small amount of content for Her.

Given I worshiped Anpu prior to Hela, a lot of my experiences with Him prepared me for those with Her. In particular was the development of my Ancestor cultus, though that definitely grew in size and complexity when I became a Heathen. Unlike my experience with Anpu I did not become Her priest nor do I do much in the way of spiritual work with Her. While Anpu assigned me work and we still have ongoing spiritual work that I do about once a week to do with the Dead, most of my interactions with Hela are purely devotional in nature.

She is part of my family’s hearth cultus, as well as that of my Kindred so all of us make prayers and offerings to Her. Our most common offerings to Her are the same as our other Norse Gods: water, alcohol, herbs, and food. They are disposed of in the same way, which is usually under a tree, or into the sink respectfully poured out if they are liquid offerings and going outside is not an option.

She can be incredibly compassionate while also being incredibly strict, and of the two I have found that She tends to offer the Dead Her compassionate side whereas the strict side tends to be towards the living. Given Hers is the realm where most of our Ancestors end up I do not understand the aversion to Her worship. It seems to me that if Ancestors are important so too should the worship of the Goddess whose realm most of Them will be occupying.

I have had interactions with Her through other means beyond our home hearth cultus. The most frequent, even in the dead of Winter, is taking the compost to Her and Níðhöggr’s shrine. I wrote about that awhile back here in 2014. We have still kept up the traditions of making prayers and the offering of compost each time the bucket gets full.

She has featured in my adult life at every loss of a loved one. Our cats Aoshi and Kuro, my Grandpa, my Great Aunt. In times of grief I have turned to Her. She has never turned me away, as surely as She has never turned away our Dead.

She is a Goddess that receives. She receives grief, our loved ones, and in turn She gives Them a place to be, and contact with us. She is a powerful Goddess that, in Her cold compassionate ways, smooths the paths so we can heal not only within ourselves but across generations. She provides the place and time to our Dead and Ancestors necessary for Them to heal, to restore, to get ready for whatever may be next, and when They are ready to commune with us and share in our lives. Hail Hela, may You ever be hailed!

Patreon Topic 42: On Godspousery

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From Maleck Odinsson comes this topic:

“Godspousery.”

Of the topics I could talk about this is one of the most fraught in Heathenry. There are fierce opponents to the notion of Godspousery. There are those who are fierce proponents of it. I am neither. Godspousery is a real spiritual phenomena and relationship, and whether or not it is modern in origin is beside the point. Far too often in Heathenry whether something ‘has pedigree’ in the lore dictates its acceptance in our communities. I would far rather we accept that our relationships come through a myriad of ways, and that, though rare, Godspousery is one them.

Godspousery is what it sounds like: a God takes a human consort. This has plenty of precedence throughout human cultures, and the one most people look to when they think of this as an example is that of Catholic nuns who take an oath to be a Bride of Christ. In my understanding of Godspousery this is one example of many, but probably the most accessible so folks can gain an understanding of the phenomenon. For another Heathen’s exploration, Erin Lale wrote an excellent piece posted here in Eternal Haunted Summer that is both accessible and a non-judgmental exploration of it.

What are we to make of this as modern Heathens? Godspousery is a real spiritual phenomena. Like a lot of spiritual phenomena and initiation, it should only be entered into after a lot of thought, prayer, personal exploration, divination, and conversation. That conversation should not only be with the God in question, it should be with the communities that person has ties with. Why?

An oath to a God or Goddess of marriage is perhaps one of the most serious that could be made with the most dire of consequences for a person and their community should that oath be broken or harm made to the relationship. Ties of hamingja, communal luck/power and the ties that bind a community, and the expression of megin, personal luck/power are bound up in the oaths we take and keep. It is not to be made lightly. Dependent on the community a Godspouse may or may not take up a unique role within that community. In such a case there are responsibilities and demands as a change in relationship also turns into a change in their job within their community.

Being a Godspouse takes a lot of forms, and rather than exhaustively go over every iteration, suffice it to say, they are relationships that develop over time. Unlike a Catholic nun, a Godspouse in Heathenry may have changes in how their relationship expresses itself. The relationship in its youth may be like a new fire, blazing and passionate, and over time this transforms into a bed of embers, warm and comfortable. The relationship may be quite regimented and become less so over time, or vice versa. It may remain the same throughout a person’s life. For whatever reason a God has chosen a human to be Their consort, and at least a portion of that person’s life is given over to that God.

Why might a God take a spouse? Because They are fascinated, attracted to, and/or find a useful quality in/of a person’s Being. To bring a person into deeper mysteries, magic, and/or power. To solidify an alignment with humanity in a given community. To bring together disaprate groups of Gods a given community worships together. To bring a teaching or technique to a person/community. They may have simply accepted the proposal from a worshiper out of love, and the acceptance is an honoring of that proposal. It could be all of these things, none of them, or more. I am not the Gods, and it is up to anyone called to such a thing to figure this out.

While Heathens should not be uncritical of Godspouses, we should do more to support them. By this I do not mean we put them on pedastals, allow poor treatment from or to them, or to treat them as wholly separate members of our communities. If anything, this status requires they be under more scrutiny for their actions, as their actions can have wide ripples in the communities they are part of. I would have the wider Heathen communities give space for Godspouses because an accepting and warm community can help folks weed out genuine experience from sock puppets and assumptions, and help the person as well as the community develop good discernment. More community support would also cut down on the number of cultish behaviors we see when folks pop up claiming power and relationship with Gods. These steps could easily be taken with anyone engaging with the Heathen communities in a spiritual specialist role, not just Godspouses.

When legitimate spiritual experiences and expressions are denigrated, called fake or unreal, it pushes those experiences down in the community, but it does not eliminate them. It pushes them underground, and at least this makes them go quiet. At most, this can cause the communities to splinter or break apart entirely. Without oversight or support it has allowed for some truly toxic behaviors from folks posing as Godspouses. Now, if for whatever reason you/your community absolutely refuses to engage with or accept a given spiritual phenomena and it keeps coming up, one of two things are happening: a) you are right and all these folks are merely engaging in some delusion or deception even if they are reporting their genuine experiences, or b) you are wrong and these folks are reporting genuine experiences that are true.

Given that so much of modern Pagan religions, Heathenry included, is built on so much of b) that it is part of most of our formal theologies, this puts folks denying the reality of Godspousery on some fairly shaky ground. Heathen religions are revivals or renewals, with reconstruction being a methodology and not a religion unto itself; it is a tool of our religions. There is a lot of our own gnosis, understanding, and beliefs we have to put into practice in order for Heathen religions to make any kind of sense, let alone have cohesion, create communities, develop cultures, and pass them on to others. Gnosis is the glue that makes Heathen religions work. It is no less a valid and understandable a religious phenomena than that of seiðkona, spiritworkers, or goðar.

If folks commit to ‘only what is sourced in the lore’ as our standard for acceptable practice in Heathenry we are going to have precious little available to us. Healthy, vital, and vibrant Heathen communities requires us to be open to new, or, at least, new-to-us experiences and understanding. It requires lived relationships with our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. Some folks will be called one way, and others another. It does not make us any inherently better or worse than one another, it just makes our pathways in Heathenry different. It is with this understanding that I believe Heathens should embrace Godspousery as a real and a vetted phenomena within our communities. It is far better for all of us to provide welcome, supportive environments for religious growth, discernment, understanding, and expression.

Patreon Poem/Prayer/Song 42: For Angrboða

If you want to submit a request for a prayer, poem, or song to be written to you privately or to be posted on this blog or my Patreon for a God, Ancestor, or spirit, sign up for the Ansuz and above level here on my Patreon.

This was requested by Maleck Odinsson for Angrboða.


The air is crisp in Jötunheim’s air

The mountains behind the forest ahead

Silver trees mark the boundaries

Ancient, arching to greet Sunna

The first thing heard is the quiet

The still

Then You are there

Great and seething with Power

Your grey-flecked fur ripples in the evening sun

Your jaws slather with invitation

I am so small beside you

Yet, we speak

You wield the great spear, knife well-adjusted on Your hip

A wolf’s grin as I am weighed under Your gaze

A movement, a bark, and Járnviðr comes alive

Teeming with Your clan

Your Wolf children

Your Snake children

Your Troll children

Your Jötun children

Countless, chaotic

Mother of Monsters

Mother of Many

Chieftain of the Ironwood

Hail to You

Thank You for the invitation

On Blood Offerings

Something that has come across my YouTube, TikTok, and WordPress feeds a few times now have been comments on blood offerings in a Heathen context. Both Beofeld and Wolf the Red are opposed to them because of the lack of context, namely that we are not an agricultural society and blood offerings, especially those of animals, no longer hold the same societal context as they once did.

Sure, but we can approach the same point of view from literally any offering we could make, mead or even water included. Nothing holds the same cache as it once did to the Ancestors of our various religions. It cannot. We are not Them.

Both Beofeld and Wolf have made the point that, before the Gods, human blood is profane. This is one of the goofiest assertions regarding offerings I have seen in a long while whether we are looking at this from a historical standpoint or that of a modern Heathen one. Sacrificial sites containing both human and animal remains are part of most sacred spaces where the ancient Scandinavians are concerned. As noted in Children of Ash and Elm by Dr. Neil Price, bones and blood have been found among the sites, indoor and outdoor (211-218). Uppåkra’s temple (211), Götavi (213-214) and Hofstaðir (216) are just three notable examples. Bog and forest sacrifices show that not only were weapons and boats offered, so too were animals and people.

Wolf notes in his video that the ancient Heathens were giving the whole animal, and all that animal might produce. His assertion is that blood itself was not the offering, which to me seems rather disingenous given how much blood is found at offering sites, and the notion of the hlaut-twig sprinkling blood at blot mentioned in Heimskringla and Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks. In short, blood hallows and there is no reason I have to believe that it is lacking in sacrality.

Among a great many other things, blood is part of our lyke, our body. The body is part of the soul matrix, and since we have neither original sin nor do we have a world-denying component to our religion, this assertion seems wrong-headed to me. Wolf made the point in his video that we are too polluted and that cutting ourselves for ritual purpose is miasmic and blasphemous. I wonder if this is not just a holdover from Christianity. We can offer our sweat, our tears, and the various things we procure through those things, including food, alcohol, herbs, water, and so on. Why would blood suddenly be off the proverbial table? If anything, it falls in line with all the others. Wolf notes in his video that looking at other polytheist religions whose religious terms and practices lived on, such as Hellenismos and Roman religion, blood was profane. I would argue this is where Heathenry differs significantly from them.

When it comes to offering blood I think that folks are more apt to have issues because of the overculture or personal issues rather than anything inherent to Heathenry as a whole. Perhaps there is something within Beofeld and Wolf’s Heathen religion(s?) that is not in my own. I have no reason to not give blood. Rúnatýr and the Runevaettir have called for it from me.

This may be an issue of exoteric practice vs that of esoteric. Exoteric practice are those things that are engaged in by most people while esoteric are not. In religion, exoteric practices are the things that are at the baseline of the religion, that everyone is expected to know and engage in. For Heathens these are things such as hearth cultus, offerings of food and/or drink, and prayers to the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. Esoteric practice are those things that are still part of the religion, but they are engaged with by a small number of people. The quiet assumption within the word esoteric in how it is used today is that mystical, ecstatic, and similar experiences tend to belong to it, which is my experience with it. While exoteric practice is the firm foundation for my Heathenry, my spiritwork is decidedly in the latter category, and influences how my exoteric work comes about. Most Heathens do not practice seiðr, spá, or Runework to a great degree, so it is little wonder so few engage with esoteric practice.

Exoteric practice, generally speaking, would not call for blood at all, sacrificed by a person or an animal. Most of us have no call or need to work with it, and as Beofeld and Wolf have both pointed out, the sacrifice itself is largely lost on folks who would just buy pigs’ blood, as though the point was just to splash blood on everything. That being said, both exoteric and esoteric practice does have use for blood. It is a connection point. It flows through us, providing a powerful link between the gifter and receiver. Yes, regarding sacrifice of our own blood, you can regain the volume of blood you gift, but the blood you gift you can never come back. The point is the gift of the blood, the pain that it took to get the blood, and the lifeforce connection it carries with you.

We have to harvest the life force of others for any other sacrifice, whether the yeast needs to die for the mead to brew, the chicken dies for its sacrifice, or the herb needs to be harvested. Our entire existence is bound up in ties of Gebo, of gipt fá gipt. Our blood, sweat, and tears are one of the few things that belong to us that we are not taking from someone or somewhere else. We are a living embodiment of the hamingja of our Ancestors and the connections we hold when we make that offering. We are a living embodiment of the megin we have built, the hugr we have. It is a beautiful offering that we can give, though few of us may have cause to give it.

Being a diabetic I have no choice but to bleed every day. My blood sugar testing and my medicines require it. I have no interest in folks engaging in blood offerings or blood magic in an unsafe or unwise manner. There are safe ways to do it. A simple diabetic lancet kit with alcohol pads, cotton balls and bandages should be all a person needs to do blood sacrifice, assuming this is something that they need to do at all. This is where divination and negotiation come in, something all too seldom talked about in Heathen circles. Perhaps Rúnatýr and the Runevaettir have asked it of you, but needles or blood squicks you out, or you do not feel like poking yourself for Their benefit once a week. Negotiate on it. Ask for something else to take the place of that. Don’t engage with Them if that is Their line, or anyone who says you have to. Plenty enough Heathen Runeworkers get great results without going through what I do, and it may simply not be necessary for you.

It is worth pointing out that I have not just given my own blood. I have learned how to properly slaughter and have sacrificed animals to the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. The aversion to death in our overculture has rendered much of our relationships with animals, and plants for that matter, to be completely inverse to what I understand it should be: based in reciprocity, with as much care taken as able to ensure a good death for the Being and good effect on the environment in the course of raising and taking the life of that Being. Blood offerings, whether from ourselves or others, are not some useless waste; they are a gift of life force, of blood, and of body. They are to be gifted in a holy way. This is why the animals to be sacrificed need to be treated with the utmost care and to die well, with as little pain as possible. It is why before making sacrifice, whether offering my blood or another’s, I cleanse.

The gifts we give need to be made cleanly whether it is of me or comes through my hands. This necessity to cleanse stands whatever the offering is, whether it is my blood, animal blood or parts, herbs, alcohol, and/or water. The necessity to cleanse is so that what comes from or passes through our hands is clean, free of anything but that gift. Everything needs to be made sacred before we gift it to the Gods so that we are giving in right relationship with Them, not because the world is fallen or that we are inherently polluted. To bring something to the Ginnreginn it needs to be made and/or brought to the Them in a good way. Cleansing is respectful and good spiritual hygiene whatever the gift is.

Most folks will have no cause to give blood whether the practice at hand is exoteric or esoteric. Where I have taken issue is several Heathen folks have made it seem as though blood offerings are outside of Heathen norms. While it may not be, and I would argue should not be common as an offering, it is a normal thing to offer it as a Heathen.

Patreon Topic 40: Developing Culture

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.

From Leslie comes this topic:

“Developing culture.”

Developing culture starts with relationships. Meaning builds on meaning. Developing a Heathen culture starts with a polytheist worldview within which is an animist one at its base. The whole world is alive; the whole world is relatable. There are more worlds than this one; those worlds are relatable too. So are each and every Being within Them.

We have a Creation Story, myths, and legends however well or poorly preserved, within the Eddas. What I think is key, with all of our information whether derived from archaeology or especially the written sources, is that we are by-and-large dealing with an oral culture. I think this is also the future of Heathen cultures. Not that writing will not be important; it will, if for no other reason than we are part of a literate overculture which places a (sometimes disproportionately) high value on the written word. Rather, what is going to truly make the various Heathenry communities into cultures is going to be the passing of the worldview, teachings, relationships, and so on to the next generations.

Religious beliefs and worldviews alone do not make a culture. What comes out of them is part of that, too. Over time perhaps Heathen cultures will develop distinct styles of dressing, wearing their hair, decorating themselves and their homes, or any other way we could think of making themselves distinct from the largely Christian American overculture. On the other hand most Heathens blend rather seemlessly into mainstream American culture, regardless of the tattoos on their skin or the jewelry, shirts, and other things they wear.

So if we do not see the wide trends regarding dress, decoration, dance, and other outward signs of a distinct Heathen culture, what would differentiate a Heathen culture from the American Christian overculture? Relationships with and to the land would be a big way. Since most Heathens relate to the world Itself as a Goddess, and have a series of Gods They worship as part of/involved in the world, this is a firm push to develop good ways of living with Her/Them in reciprocity.

Most Heathens engage in some kind of Ancestor cultus. That could, over time, take place with actual mounds we raise on our own lands to Them, and provide powerful intergenerational connections to land, and through that to our Ancestors and vaettir. The vaettir Themselves are another powerful connection that encourages the development of culture, both in relationship with the environment and in relationship with how we live on the land. With a world alive with vaettir, spirits, and connections literally all around us, Heathens engaging with the vaettir can develop unique ways of relating to and living with the land. Already some Heathens, myself included, are working to include indigenous wisdom, permaculture, and similarly aligned views so we live well on the land and with the vaettir here.

As more Heathens engage in lived relationships with the Earth Goddesses, Gods of the land, local Gods, the Ancestors, and vaettir, local and regional cultus is beginning to form. Heathens will likely become even more distinct from one another as this goes on over time. We cannot all relate to the Earth the same way when we are living in different parts of America. Even those Heathens living close to each other not have the same relationship with the environment, the Gods of these places, our Ancestors, and/or the landvaettir.

Another vector for Heathens’ cultural development is the way that relationships within as well as without Heathen communities form, and how those are maintained. Having just written on the concept of frið and grið for my latest Q&A, it seems to me that it is both related to similar concepts found in other religions and also distinctly Heathen. Writ large into how we form relationships, personal and interpersonal, individually and communally, these webs of relationships can unfold in ways we are only just seeing.

TikTok’s latest Norsetok controversies actually show us the dark side of this: flame wars and cults of personality being formed around folks based in clan and Kindred structure. However, it also has shown in the same blow that even Norsetok has staying power, as folks have banded together to work against such things and address power imbalances, unchecked ego, and so on. Twitter and Tumblr Heathen communities before them have gone this way, and likewise so have physical Heathen communities. So, what we may be seeing on a far faster scale in TikTok is a larger trend borne from the way Heathens tend to structure themselves.

Heathen communities tend to unfold around shared interests of being in relationship with and worshiping the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. They may or may not share larger interests with the overculture, not unlike a lot of other cultures. There are Christians that play video games like Call of Duty, whereas others reject them as too worldly, or glorifying violence. There are Heathens that play video games like Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla or watch the Thor Marvel movies, while others refuse to engage with them. I expect that as we come into second, third, and in some cases fourth generations of Heathens, we will see similar trends to the overculture in terms of our overall place in things. Some Heathens will trend politically left, others politically right, and this will shift over time with general trends based on where they live, how, and with whom they are relationship with. What I think will be politically distinct for Heathens is that most will still carry some kind of emphasis on a good relationship with the Earth, their local environment, and environmental issues generally, whatever source that comes from for them. More than anything else the interconnected relationships born out of Gebo, frið, and grið that are distinct to Heathenry will have unfolding consequences into how regional variations of Heathenry may come about.

There is a big lack of prognostication in this post on exactly how Heathen cultures will come about, develop, grow, and work. Part of the reason for that is that I have no idea how Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, Continental Heathenry, Slavic Heathenry, and other Heathen communities will develop over time because I am not directly involved in them. I do not have the anecdotes to develop even a broad picture of how those communities could shake out over time. The other reason for the lack of prediction on my part is because it is essentially a fool’s errand. There are some Heathen communities that operate essentially as männerbund (warband), others as communes, others as communally connected yet distinct hearths, and some Heathen communities are organized almost entirely online. Some Heathen communities incorporate some or all of these modes of operation together. Factor that together with the understanding that regional cultus and relationships are being made between local Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir with Heathen communities, and predicting anything other than a very broad-based idea is quickly put full of holes.

So where are we going? I have ideas for my local communities. A lot of us are engaging in local cultus, developing relationships with our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir in context of where we are and how we live. As time goes on, I think one of the ways we and the overall trend for the Heathen communities are following one another is that there is going to be more involvement in local and national environmental movements. Something I am seeing the beginning of is communities developing distinct aesthetics with regards to clothes, home decor, tattooing, and other forms of decoration. There are patterns in the Heathen community which are in place that will balance devotion and relationship with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. Some, if not most of those relationships will unfold with how we live on the land. I am excited to experience how Heathen cultures will develop, grow, and maintain themselves.

Patreon Topic 31: On Burnout

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.

From Kate comes this topic:

“I’m very new to following my current path, and was interested on ways to prevent burnout and becoming overwhelmed while opening up to what the Gods are teaching me.”

The first thing to keep is boundaries. Remember, the Gods do not necessarily have our perspective/experience in mind when They give us things to do. Because our relationships are a two-way street we need to be clear about what our boundaries are. Some Gods, such as Óðinn, might push you hard on moving your boundaries back. My advice, earned through no small amount of doing this, is to not do that. You still need to be able to live well in this world. In my case Óðinn pushed me to the breaking point before I finally exercised my right to enforce my boundaries. He did not do this out of callousness, but to teach me, especially because a vaettr with an agenda might take advantage of that zeal.

Boundaries, such as right relationship with a God, Goddess, Ancestors, and/or vaettir may be personally as well as communally negotiated. Our various sources of information, such as myths and archaeology, can help us to see where the boundaries used to lie between the Gods, Ancestors, vaettir, and Their worshipers at one time. Having this as an idea of where to start can help. Again, “the past gets a vote, not a veto.” In the end, we are the living carriers of these religions and it is our relationships that we are engaging in with the Ginnreginn. Right relationship with our communities is something we each need to decide on what that looks like.

The second thing to keep are the things that bring us contentment, joy, and relaxation. Rituals to and with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir should be things we enjoy. They do not need to be overly complex or too simplistic unless such is a requirement from Them. Likewise, how we live our lives needs to involve periods where we can take care of our obligations, ourselves, and those we love. Schedule them if you need to.

The third thing to keep is mindfulness. Since we are largely reviving our religions, I will share a quote I love from Ocean Keltoi: “The past gets a vote not a veto.” We can take inspiration, quite a bit from our religions’ forebears, but this path now is ours to live. Mindfulness keeps us connected with our worldview, and from there how we relate to everything in the Worlds. Mindfulness may involve meditation, simply observing our thoughts on a thing we are going to do and correcting or affirming it, or just taking a step back from a situation. Mindfulness helps to prevent burnout because it helps us to recognize when we are becoming overwhelmed or burnt out. It helps us to keep our boundaries, or to let us know when they’re being too rigidly enforced. Sometimes the boundaries we make can turn into prisons with enough worry or strictures around how we think. Without boundaries we have no structure into which our relationships and spiritual experiences go, and so they can lose meaning or any anchoring in our lives. So, questioning boundaries or being willing to let them move or tighten up can be helpful.

The fourth thing to keep is community. Whether online or off, a good community can help to keep us grounded, evaluate information, and develop discernment. In the case of this topic suggestion, just asking the question and the responses I give here has the potential to help someone, and so not only are you potentially helping yourself, you may also be helping other folks you will never personally meet. The boundaries advice was first, though, because sometimes communities can be unhelpful, whether they are misled, toxic, or just not communicating well. So, keeping your boundaries, your contentment, joy, and relaxation, and your mindfulness helps when interfacing with communities so you have the grounds on which to judge whether a given community can or will be helpful to you. A community that asks too much or gives too little back will definitely contribute to stress, burnout, and overwhelm. Likewise, a community that has a good balance with you and one another can contribute to each member facing these things.

It is totally acceptable and good to just have a simple devotional relationship with the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. There is no race, no competition, no need to go any faster or slower than what your needs require. You are just beginning your journey, and it may take a short while or as long as  years to find if you have a niche, and if you do have one, what that niche is. So, how to apply all of this?

Developing a daily practice is an excellent boundary to keep, both because it allows for a period of our lives to be given over to our religious obligations and because it gives us space to be able to enjoy contact with our Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. Daily practice can start quite small, say five minutes a day. The kicker here is to do it regularly. This discipline can help quite a bit in giving us a place to have contact with our Ginnreginn (Mighty/Holy Powers) in an ordered space that allows us to shed every other thing except the time we give over to be with Them. Keeping this boundary, both with myself and others, has allowed me no small amount of peace, contentment, and joy. It has allowed me to bring mindfulness into my everyday life in a lot of profound ways, and it has deepened my involvement with community, both through platforms like these and through the work I am ble to do because my bases are covered, and my baseline obligations are taken care of.

Intentionally setting aside time to engage in things that make you happy, that bring on contenment, joy, and relaxation, helps us not only handle our everyday stress, it also helps us in our spiritual pursuits too. By providing that down-time we won’t be as tempted to eat into the time we give to the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. It also allows us to unwind and if we are in a places where we can, to reflect on our experiences and find ways to integrate them into our lives. Whether it is reading, listening to music, playing video games, socializing, whatever gets you there, we make the choice to not divorce our spirituality from the rest of our lives. We are able to bring our religions right into what we enjoy there too. Folks, myself included, have made playlists to Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir that include songs we deeply enjoy that tie those bond with Them tighter through sharing more of our lives with Them. By going beyond some boundaries, eg a strict separation of religion from the rest of one’s life, we can encourage a more integrated and deeper bond with our Ginnreginn that spans our lives. Sometimes, though, we do need to have clear boundaries on our time and to just do things for ourselves.

There are a lot of resources on how to develop mindfulness. One of the best tools for me is a series of questions I still use: “What does it do? How well does it do it?” This can be applied to tools as to devotional work, eg making offerings. It can also be applied to whether some activity is me keeping myself busy vs something that actually allows me to relax. Being mindful takes practice, and as your skill in it grows it can be applied to more things in your life. How you shop and what you shop for can be informed by mindful consideration, eg “Does this thing comport with the values of my worldview? If yes, how well? If no, do I still need this or want this bad enough that I can justify it to my worldview? Is there another way to get this thing/result?” How you enjoy certain things for relaxation may change over time as well, eg “This music used to be soothing but since using it in ritual I have this association now and need to find new music.” Your boundaries and tastes and so much more can change over time, so adaptability paired with mindfulness can help things to flow to some useful, powerful places.

Recognize that there are going to be times in your life where you need to drop back in some of your practices, take stock of where you are, and do the minimum so you can keep on keeping on. This does not make you a failure or a bad Pagan. Everyone has times in their life that will make them take a huge step back from whatever they are used to or think that they have to do, and parse your priorities, needs, obligations, and what you can do right now.

It is my hope that this helps you and that I have given you some good starting points.

Patreon Song/Poem/Prayer 29 -For Cernnunos -Farewell

If you want to submit a request for a prayer, poem, or song to be written to you privately or to be posted on this blog or my Patreon for a God, Ancestor, or spirit, sign up for the Ansuz and above level here on my Patreon. This prayer was requested by Maleck Odinsson for Cernunnos.

You walked with me

Through the woods, the wild, the wonderful places

You showed me

The sacred places, prepared and protected me

You taught me

The holy ways, hallowing and healing

O Horned One, Torc-Bearer

Hoof and horn, claw and crushing jaw

Gentle-stepper, Silent Stalker

Hunter and Hunted, Predator and Prey

Thank You, always, for walking with me

Thank You, always, for showing me

Thank You, always, for teaching me

Cernnunos