Daily Prayer

This is a chapter from a book on family rites I am working on. Any feedback would be appreciated:

Heathen prayers survived the ages very poorly. Very few survived, and of those that did, several are mere fragments. Nevertheless, prayer seems to have played an important role in ancient Heathen life, judging by number of prayers that did survive. The importance prayer played for converts immediately following the Conversion is also clearly portrayed in surviving sources, and it is doubtful that those recently converted would have so eagerly partaken in a ritual form that was alien to them. A letter to Abbot Mellitus for Augustine from Pope Gregory implies that the ancient Heathen Angles were familiar with prayer:

And because they have been used to slaughter many oxen in the sacrifices to devils, some solemnity must be exchanged for them on this account, as that on the day of the dedication, or the nativities of the holy martyrs, whose relics are there deposited, they may build themselves huts of the boughs of trees, about those churches which have been turned to that use from temples, and celebrate the solemnity with religious feasting, and no more offer beasts to the Devil, but kill cattle to the praise of God in their eating, and return thanks to the Giver of all things for their sustenance; to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God.

Prayer or bedes are nothing more than talking to the Gods and Goddesses. They can be very formal, as the bedes done in blót, semi-formal such as “grace” said over the evening meal, or very informal such as a casual discussion with one’s patron deity.
Prayers in the Lore

A few prayers did survive to be set down in writing. They are not many, but sufficient to give us some idea of how prayers were constructed. They vary, from the very formal to the causal. In addition to these bedes, similar forms such as the Anglo-Saxon charms and the Merseburg Charms survived. Perhaps the ancient prayer most are familiar with comes from the Sigdrífumál in the Elder Edda. It goes in translation as below:

Hail Day, Hail, Sons of Day!
Hail Night and New Moon!
With kind eyes look hither and grant us
Victory while we live.
Hail Gods! Hail Goddesses!
Hail bountiful Earth!
Grace us both with the gift of speech
And leech hands while we live.
(W H Auden & P B Taylor Translation.)

Another prayer that survived, this one from the Anglo-Saxon charm called variously Field Remedy, the Æcer-bót, or To Charm a Field follows:

Wes þú Hál, folde—fira módor;
(wassail Earth—Mankind’s mother)
béo þú growende—in godes f‘ðme,
(be thou growing—in god’s embrace)
fódor gefylled—firum tó nytte.
(With food filled—for men to use)
beorht blówende—þú gebletsod weorþ.
(bright blossoming—thou blessed worth)
Þæs hálgan name—þe þás heofongescóp,
(In that holy name—that the heaven shaped)
ond þás eorðan—þe wé on lífiaþ,
(and that of the earth—that we live in)
sé god—sé þás grundas geworhte,
(that god—that the grounds wrought)
geunne ús—growende giefe
(grant us—growing yield)
þæt ús corna gehwilc—cume tó nytte.
(that every kind of corn to us—comes to use)

Finally, here is a prayer recorded by Ibn Fadlan on his visit to the Rus:

Oh my lord, I have come far with many slave-girls and many sables ….Now With these offerings I come to you….Send me a merchant with lots of gold and willing to buy on my terms.

As can be seen, there was a great variety in how prayers might be done. Generally, though, bedes followed a set pattern. A greeting to a God or Goddess (or deities) opened the prayer. A boast of the God or Gods’ great deeds, or other mythological references could follow. The deities may be called on through various names and nicknames as in the Æcer-bót at this time as well. Finally, a petition or request ended the prayer with the promise of a gift or a sacrifice in return. The greeting seemed to have been quite simple, and not much different from greeting a person you met on the street. The boast however could be elaborate. A portion of a prayer to Þunor (Thor) survived in Snorri’s Skáldskaparmál:

You smashed the limbs of Leikn,
you bashed Þrivaldi;
you knocked down Starkaðr;
you trod Gjalp dead under foot.

The petition again, could be quite simple as well. The prayer from the Sigdrífumál for example just states “give us the gift of speech, and healing hands as we live.” The petition section can cover anything and everything. Think of anything your family might want or need, and you can ask the Gods, Goddesses, or ancestors for. Getting what you ask for is a different matter. Remember to, “a gift calls for a gift,” so one must promise the deities something in return for their help.

For use amongst one’s family, one need not be overly elaborate with their prayers. Most prayers are likely to be those of thanks, impromptu bedes made on special occasions such as a pay raise, a good report card, or a football game won. If one says bedes prior to a meal, these, while formal, can be “off the cuff.” They may mention the day’s events, or upcoming hopes such as a child passing an important test in school. Prayers for family rites may be more formal, and for guidance on these, one may wish to read the chapter on prayer in Hammer of the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism in Modern Times.

For the most part, families need not worry about composing prayers using stave rhyme or alliteration, in the Elder Tongues, poetry, or with grandiose words. Prayers can be simple, but meaningful to the family members present. That is not to say, one cannot compose very complex prayers using alliterative poetry said in one of the ancient Germanic languages. It is to say that such is not a requirement. The Gods and Goddesses understand everyday English as well as they do Old Norse or Old English.

Physical actions during prayer have been of much debate within the Heathen community. In the early days of modern Germanic Heathenry, the attitude was that one always stood before the Gods and Goddesses. One never bowed, or kneeled. Research into the topic however, has revealed ancient Heathens may have adopted a different attitude. The Flateyjarbók, describes Hakon as falling prostate before the dís Þórgerðr when praying to her. In Hörd’s Saga, Þórstein falls before an idol and speaks to it. The Old Norse verb, lúta “to lout down, to bow, kneel” appears in several passages associated with prayers. Its cognate Old English lútan meant not only “to bend , stoop,” but also “to bow, make obeisance to.” The Æcer-bót begins “…ic stande,” but standan in Old English did not mean the same thing as “to stand” does now. It could simply mean “I remain in place,” thus one could be kneeling or bowing, and still be standende.

Grimm in Teutonic Mythology, maintained that the baring of the head, folding of hands, and many other gestures amongst Christians were perhaps Germanic in origin.

On the form and manner of heathen prayer we lack information; I merely conjecture that it was accompanied by a looking up to heaven, bending of the body (of which bidjan gave a hint), folding of hands, bowing of knees, uncovering of the head. These gestures grow out of a crude childlike notion of antiquity, that the human supplicant presents and submits himself to the mighty god, his conqueror, as a defenceless victim (see Suppl.).
(Stallybrass translator, Jacob Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, Vol. I, Chapter 3, page 2)

Therefore, how one and their family conduct their posture during prayer is largely a decision left to the family. Enough evidence exists to show that ancient Heathens did more than just stand during prayer, yet the modern preference is to stand (or in the case of “grace” be seated). However, the ancient Heathens may not have seen kneeling, bowing, going prostate, as subservience to, or fear of, the Gods and Goddesses (although it would be understandable if they did see it this way). It could have simply been a way of showing deep respect. Bowing one’s head during prayers before meals might be a way of teaching children respect for the Gods and Goddesses, as could kneeling, when saying bedtime prayers. Regardless, such is at a family’s discretion.
Use of Prayer

Unlike Christians, Germanic Heathens do not generally have weekly worship services. It is therefore difficult for a Heathen family to feel that they worship together as a family. Modern life makes for busy, conflicting schedules, which do not allow for any sort of informal worship or studies together. Bedes therefore fill an important role for the Heathen family. Beyond the aim of receiving the favor of the Ése (Aesir) and Wen (Vanir), prayers can serve as a way of uniting a family in worship, a teaching tool for the young, and further re-enforce one’s own dedication as a Heathen. Bedes can serve as a brief way to celebrate a special occasion, a prayer of thanks. Prayers may be said in times of crisis, such as to ask for help for a sick or injured loved one. They can be used daily as a type of “grace” said before meals. Bedes are the basis of Heathen worship, a building block in blót and other Heathen rites. They can therefore serve as a building block of worship between the major holy tides for a family.

One need not pray to the Gods and Goddesses alone however. One may pray to ancestors, and this would certainly help unite a family by preserving its history (not to mention gain the help of ancient Heathen ancestors). Orlæg (Old Norse Orlög) after all, is said to be passed down family lines, and we know that DNA is. Getting in touch with one’s heritage, therefore, could serve as a tool for good interactions amongst one’s living family members.

In addition, some studies have shown that prayer, regardless of religion, can improve the chances of recovery for those suffering injury or disease (though there are also some that have shown prayer has no effect). The first to do an extensive scientific study was Randolph Byrd in 1988. Byrd used Christians to pray for 393 patients San Francisco General Medical Center with cardiovascular problems. After ten months, those for whom prayer groups said prayers for, showed marked improvement compared to those that had not been. Dr. Elisabeth Targ did a similar study also in 1998 using AIDS patients. Instead of just Christians however, she involved also Jews, Native Americans, and Buddhists, as well as those of other religions. Her results showed that those not prayed for spent six times as long in hospital and contracted three times as many illnesses. In 2001, Dr. William Harris, a cardiologist, lead a team at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. His study, unlike that of Byrd’s used a variety of Christian denominations. Those prayed for in his study stayed in the hospital the same amount of time, but again showed marked improvement. Even in those studies that show prayer had no effect, there seem to have been slight improvement in the patients prayer groups said prayers for. The Mayo Clinc performed a study in 1999 that seemed to disprove the power of prayer. As a study group, they used 799 coronary care unit patients. At the end of the study, they concluded there was no effect on recovery. However, their research showed that only 25.6% of all patients prayed for reached an end point, while 29.3% of all patients for whom no prayers were spoken (at least by the assigned prayer groups) reached an end point. An end point was defined as death, cardiac arrest or coronary revascularization, emergency department visit for cardiovascular disease, or re-hospitalization for cardiovascular disease. (Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, Effectiveness of “distant healing” prayer accessed from http://www.religioustolerance.org/medical6.htm on April 4, 2006) While this nearly 4% difference in recovery between those prayed for and those that were not may seem insignificant to the researchers, to the families of the patients involved it must seem very significant.

Finally, just as meditation can improve the mental health of the practitioner, so prayer may do the same for a family. Prayer, like meditation causes an individual to focus their thoughts, and in a group can serve as a form of guided meditation. Even the medical community recognizes meditation as a way to handle stress, and as such believes it may have long term health benefits. In 1968, Dr. Herbert Benson (ironically one of the MDs involved in a study that found prayer had little to no effect) conducted a study into the effects of transcendental meditation. He found that those that practiced meditation could lower their blood pressure. In another study, Richard J. Davidson, PhD found that participants that meditated had less stressful brain activity, and that meditation boosted the immune systems of those that meditated (The National Institutes of Health, Meditation, accessed from http://www.strive4impact.com/massage_files/Articles/Meditation.html on April 4, 2006).

Prayer can be much like meditation. Family members can be encouraged to clear their minds prior to a prayer (until they learn to do so), and to focus on the whole point of the bede or the words being said. Just the silence of those not praying out loud could contribute to a meditative state. Prayers need not be communally said, or statement and response as in some other religions.

Regardless of health benefits, the benefits to others, or other such benefits, prayer is another way that families can interact in a healthy fashion without the need for television or video games.

Family prayers can be said by the head of the family (that is one of the parents). This gives the others a chance to focus on what is being said. One can speak, chant, sing, or perhaps, even “poetically interpret” prayers. A family should use what works for them for them regardless of what other Heathens do. After all, part of being Heathen is laying down layers of customs to be used for future generations. As every tribe had different customs, so now every family may.
Some Sample Prayers

As stated above, family prayers can be fairly simple (indeed, most below are written for children). They need not be like the grand prayers of a group rite at a high holy tide. Therefore, the sample prayers below are short, simple enough for a child to say and remember, but still accomplish their task. One should by all means, compose their own prayers. Prayer should be a very personal thing; it is you and your family’s “talks” with the Gods and Goddesses.

A Mealtime Bless

Thanks be to Thunor for the rains that water the ground,
Thanks be to Fréa for fertilizing the fields that bring the food.
Thanks be to all the Gods that give us what we eat now.

A Bedtime Prayer

May the Gods keep me warm, dry, and safe,
As I go to bed this night.
Sweet dreams may I have,
And if I am scared may Frige hold me tight.

A Prayer for Travel

Now we go on the road,
May the Gods and Goddess ward us as we fare.
May they lighten any heavy loads,
and not allow us more than we can bear.

Putting on One’s Hammer

My hammer I place around my neck,
To ward and guide me as I trek,
Throughout the day may Thunor ward,
As I go about my daily chores.

Regionalism

There has been a lot of talk this past year about regionalism. This is nothing new and has been a topic for most of my Heathen life (which is now in its 23rd year). On the surface it sounds well and good. Organize regional gatherings, form a regional thing, and all will be dandy. Folks will communicate, get together, and do things together. The problem is without a guiding national organization it rarely works out that way. I can name several regional organizations that went the way of the buffalo. All organized with the best of intentions. The Great Plains Ring operated in the Midwest for a couple of years before going belly up, as did the Texas Asatru League, and the Indiana Asatru Council, once one of the most active regional organizations has not seen activity in years. The same can be said of regional lists. The Central States Heathen list was once very active, and even hosted a couple of gatherings. It is now lucky to see twenty posts a month. Regionalism, at least up to now has not worked with a very few exceptions.

I have a theory why and it centers on diversity. With a national organization, all the individuals, kindreds, and fellowships generally share a common interest and common goals. Like attracts like. But with a regional organization, the only common denominator is that of proximity. And more is needed than mere physical proximity for an organization to work. That is why in say, a small area like Dallas-Fort Worth you see more than four fellowships. Beliefs, how rituals are done, customs and traditions, and esp. personalities differ from group to group and do not always mix well. An individual regional group is therefore almost doomed from the start.

Even when there are common interests a regional group may fail. The Angelseaxisce Ealdriht was a very successful Anglo-Saxon organization and operated quite well as a national organization. It was decided in its eighth year to encourage regionalism. Regional groups were formed, and it operated a short while in this fashion. Then internal disagreements lead to a decision to dissolve the organization. The Angelseaxisce Ealdriht broke into its two largest regional groups, Miercinga Theod and New Anglia Theod. Within three years both organizations were gone, and what had been a very successful national organization was relegated to Heathen history.

The sad fact is I fear that regional groups need the guiding hand of a national organization to work. A national organization can provide resources such as websites and publishing, not to mention clergy that a regional organization may lack. It can also provide a common interest, and mediate should disagreements arise. To date, there are only a few regional efforts I have seen succeed over the years. Perhaps, someday, I will be proven wrong.

Do not get me wrong, I am all for regionalism. I think regional organizations are a wonderful idea. There are advantages to them. And I wish all the luck in the world to anyone trying to organize one. I simply do not think an independent regional organization can succeed. I have seen far too many fail. I would say if someone wants to do a regional effort, do it within the confines of a national organization. This way you have a guiding hand to help with the effort. You also have the advantage of attracting those of like mind. Sure, you are going to limit yourself. Not everyone is going to want to be affiliated with the Troth, AFA, or GFS in your region, but you will at least have the stability needed to survive and succeed.

And if one does not want to affiliate with a national organization, then let the regional effort be organic. Instead of setting out to organize a regional group, start by hosting gatherings, perhaps hosting a regional list, and do this for several years. Invite all the kindreds in the region and solitaries as well. Do not even think about a regional group until everyone knows everyone very well. A year or two is not enough time for that to happen in my opinion. Wait for five years before even thinking of a regional group. Otherwise, I fear all efforts will be doomed to failure. Hopefully, it will not always be that way.

Heathen Renown

One thing for certain, the ancient Heathens did not believe in being forgotten.

Cattle die, and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one’s self;
But a noble name will never die,
If good renown one gets.

Cattle die, and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one’s self;
One thing I know that never dies,
The fame of a dead man’s deeds.
(Havamal 76-77)

As my cousin said, “better to live in infamy, than to die unknown.” What does this mean for the modern Heathen though? We are not exactly in the position to go off to war, win battles, and die a glorious death. This is though actually a narrow view of what the ancient Heathens took to be renown. We know from the Anglo-Saxon Maxims that they also liked to be known for their generosity.

The king shall with money win a queen, with cups and rings; both must first be good with gifts. The spirit must be in an earl, to grow in courage, and the woman to thrive in love with her people, be cheerful-minded, hold counsel, be roomy-hearted, with horses and treasures, at the meadcompany, before companion-protection always at all times, go first to greet the noble one, first fully to the lord’s hand, know counsel, and know advice for him, the owners of the homestead both together. (Anglo-Saxon Maxims I (II))

The ideal ancient Heathen was free with gifts. We also know other virtues were prized.

He craves for water, who comes for refreshment,
drying and friendly bidding,
marks of good will, fair fame if ’tis won,
and welcome once and again.
(Havamal 4)

Hospitality was also desired in the ideal ancient Heathen. What these verses go to show us is that more than battle prowess was required to achieve a name of renown. One also had to demonstrate certain virtues such as generosity and hospitality, and possess certain traits such as wisdom. These are things modern Heathens can achieve. One should gift their friends and family often, and welcome other Heathens into their home. My former wife, Teresa Canote was almost ideal in this. Never did someone leave our home empty handed or not well fed. I know of many other Heathens of which I can say the same. This is a way to ensuring one’s name is remembered, that they are not simply forgotten like so many internet Heathens are. One must be active in the Heathen community to do this, at least locally. You cannot exactly be generous with folk if you do not know anyone save on the net. Gifts need not be of a monetary value either. I do not make a lot of money, and what I do have goes for care of my son and his future (all the profits from my books go into a trust for him, all else to his support). However, I have used my ability to write to give the gift of knowledge to folk. It is the one thing I can give freely. Others can do the same. Perhaps you are good with your hands, capable of weaving beautiful cloth, or good at wood working. Both can be applied to make wonderful gifts cheaply for other Heathens. Some of my most prized things gifted me have been hand made. Something as simple as composing a poem for someone can mean a lot.

As Heathens we are expected to do as the ancient Heathens did. And one thing they did was try to make sure they were remembered. This is something we can achieve by being free with gifts and welcoming others in our homes.

Shunning

ER Dodds in The Greeks and the Irrational articulated that there were shame cultures and guilt cultures. In a shame culture, having a name of renown, winning wide fame as Achilles did was what all are expected to seek. Ancient Greek warriors had to live up to a certain heroic ideal, and failing to do so resulted in shame, the fear of being judged as lacking in some way by the community at large. This as opposed to a guilt culture where one’s personal feelings are more important than the judgment of society. Modern European culture for the most part is a guilt culture. In a shame culture, what others believe is most important. In a guilt culture what others believe is not as important.

Ancient Heathen society was a shame culture. Ancient Germanic warriors sought fame, and failing to achieve some sense of fame felt shame at being judged by the community. It was a society where certain things were demanded of you, as opposed to modern secular society where almost nothing is demanded of you. In ancient Germanic society you had to live up to certain expectations as opposed to modern society where there is no expectation other than obeying the law. That being so, modern Heathenry being a reconstruction of ancient society is a shame based culture. We are expected to live honorably and to try to help the community. When we fail, well, this is where shunning comes in.

Shunning is not unique to modern Heathenry. It was no doubt practiced in ancient Heathen society, and we have examples of outlawry to prove it. However, it is a practice that is much abused. Unlike ancient Heathens, we do not have a clear cut set of ideas to live by. We come to Heathenry with a plethora of alien ideas borrowed from Christianity, and countless other places. We are not raised with Heathen ideas of what is expected of us. Therefore, there are no clear cut ideas on how or why someone should be shunned. Shunning which probably would have only taken place with some crime or dishonorable deed like cowardice in ancient times, now may take place over a simple slight (something that could have been resolved over a horn of mead). I do not think we fully understand yet, what it means to shun or be shunned. First off, and this may seem to go against what is known of a shame culture, we should judge someone by their deeds, and not what is being said about them. Yes, public opinion is important, but I have seen too many times, good Heathens shunned simply because they could not be as wily with words as the person that opposed them. Whether we decide to shun someone should therefore be based on what we have seen them do, not what we have heard about them. Too, many times have I seen people shunned over what amounts to a lie about them. Next, is my old rule of not judging someone until you have shared a horn of mead with them. This is a way of gaining first hand knowledge of what they are about. Again it goes back to not judging someone based on what is said about them. Anyone can generate hearsay. Rumors can be spread, half truths told, and a dozen white lies can lead to someone being shunned. It is therefore vital that we know why we are shunning someone. It is not enough to believe your friend that such and such did such and such to them. There is always two sides to a story.

Still shunning is a good tool at enforcing behavior. One just must be certain that they are not rewarding bad behavior such as rumor mongering by doing so. My own belief is that the threshold for shunning needs to be raised in modern Heathen culture and that other means of dealing with problems need to be further advanced. The use of scyld or wergild for example is a more grithful alternative for serious offences. Regardless, shunning will probably continue. I do not see it going away. In the meantime, I would suggest reserving shunning for the most serious of offenses such as robbery, murder, and child molestation.

The Basics of Faining or Blot

I have probably written a dozen articles and posts on faining or as Asatruar call it blot (taken from Old Norse and Old English blót), and each time I find a way to improve on what I have written before. In Theodism, blot is reserved for blood sacrifices, the sacrifice of a sacred animal. But within Asatru and greater Heathenry, blot is used of any rite, be it a the giving of mead, of bread, or of an animal. The concept behind faining or blot is simple, give to the Gods so they can give to us in return.

When an article of value is passed across the boundary of frith and grasped by alien hands, a fusion of life takes place, which binds men one to another with an obligation of the same character as that of frith its self. (Grönbech. The Culture of the Teutons, Vol.2, p. 55)

This gift goings beyond the mere giving and getting of gifts though, it creates a bond between the two parties, in this case, Gods and men.

Exchanging gifts was thought to create a bond between the two givers. If one were given a gift, they had to give something back in return, or do some deed in return .(Stephen Glosecki, Shamanism and Old English Poetry, 61-66).

The giving creates bonds akin to friendship or kinship.

Not only this, but giving of a gift indicated that either a pledge was being made, or that friendship was desired (Gronbech, Culture of the Teutons, 77-78).

The purpose of faining or blot is therefore twofold, first to give gifts to the Gods to get gifts in return. The ancient Heathens would give a bull or pig to the Gods to get good crops in return for example. Second, it was to create a bond with the Gods, to become a member of their enclosure, their tribe.

All modern blot outlines generally follow the same outline, there is a reason for this, there are only two examples of an ancient Heathen faining in the lore, one in Old Norse, and one in Old English. The Old Norse account has almost always been the one adapted to an outline for faining or blot. To see the Old English one goto http://swainblog.englatheod.org/?p=404. In the Heimskingla, Snorri describes how an ancient faining took place:

Það var forn siður Þá er blót skyldi vera að allir bændur skyldu Þar koma sem hof var og flytja Þannug föng sín, Þau er Þeir skyldu hafa meðan veislan stóð. Að veislu Þeirri skyldu allir menn öl eiga. Þar var og drepinn alls konar smali og svo hross en blóð Það allt er Þar kom af, Þá var kallað hlaut og hlautbollar Það er blóð Það stóð í, og hlautteinar, Það var svo gert sem stökklar, með Því skyldi rjóða stallana öllu saman og svo veggi hofsins utan og innan og svo stökkva á mennina en slátur skyldi sjóða til mannfagnaðar. Eldar skyldu vera á miðju gólfi í hofinu og Þar katlar yfir. Skyldi full um eld bera en sá er gerði veisluna og höfðingi var, Þá skyldi hann signa fullið og allan blótmatinn. Skyldi fyrst Óðins full, skyldi Það drekka til sigurs og ríkis konungi sínum, en síðan Njarðar full og Freys full til árs og friðar. Þá var mörgum mönnum títt að drekka Þar næst bragafull. Menn drukku og full frænda sinna, Þeirra er heygðir höfðu verið, og voru Það minni kölluð.

It was an old custom, that when there was to be sacrifice all the bondes should come to the spot where the temple stood and bring with them all that they required while the festival of the sacrifice lasted. To this festival all the men brought ale with them; and all kinds of cattle, as well as horses, were slaughtered, and all the blood that came from them was called “hlaut”, and the vessels in which it was collected were called hlaut-vessels. Hlaut-staves were made, like sprinkling brushes, with which the whole of the altars and the temple walls, both outside and inside, were sprinkled over, and also the people were sprinkled with the blood; but the flesh was boiled into savoury meat for those present. The fire was in the middle of the floor of the temple, and over it hung the kettles, and the full goblets were handed across the fire; and he who made the feast, and was a chief, blessed the full goblets, and all the meat of the sacrifice. And first Odin’s goblet was emptied for victory and power to his king; thereafter, Niord’s and Frey’s goblets for peace and a good season. Then it was the custom of many to empty the brage-goblet; and then the guests emptied a goblet to the memory of departed friends, called the remembrance goblet.

The rite described can be outlined as follows:

1) The slaughter of the animal. (Not mentioned in the Heimskringla, but presumed from the fact meat and blood is present).
3) The passing of food and drink over a flame.
4) The blessing with blood.
5) The fulls or toasts to the Gods.
6) The minni or rememberance goblet.

From this one can create a fuller outline for use in rites as has been done countlesss by many modern Heathens. I use the outline as followed, which I cover in some detail. Note this outline appears on the Wednesbury Shire website as well as in my books in various forms.

1) Pre-rite: Certain activities were bound to have taken place before a blot or faining. In Helgakvida Horrvoardssonar, a boar called the sonargöltR or “leading boar” is brought out to swear oaths on. The same term, sonargöltR is used in Heiðreks Saga when a boar is brought before the king, and intended for blot. In some cases, it may mean that there must be a journey of some kind for the wéoh or idol being used. We know from Germania that the idol of Nerhus was hauled around in a cart and in the Ögmundar þ&aaute;ttr dytts the same was done of Freyr.

2) The blót or slaugher of the animal: For libations this is not necessary, but for animal sacrifice it is. In Theodish circles, the animal is garlanded, and songs are sung to it to calm it. The animal is then slain in the most humane way as possible, usually by slitting the jugular and allowing it to bleed out (which kills the animal in about a minute or two rather painlessly). Following the slaying of the animal, the meat is then butchered, and prepared for cooking. The head is reserved for the Gods and Goddesses. Of course, if mead or bread is being given, this step is not necessary.

3) The creation of sacred space: This is when most folks consider the rite to have begun, and wher most modern outlines start. Many in modern Heathenry use the Hammer Rite, developed by Edred Thorsson. The Hammer Rite appears no where in the lore, but its concept does have some basis in the lore. Its basis draws on the fact Thor or Thunor was seen as the hallower, or the one that makes things sacred. This is shown by the phrase “Þ&oacuterr uiki,” “Thor make sacred” seen on some ancient runestones, and the fact that in the Þrymskviða, Thor’s hammer is lain in his lap to bless the bride (Thor being disguised as Freya for the wedding to the giant Thrym). Another method, one more commonly used by Theodsmen is circuling the area with fire. This is taken from the Landnámabók. Jörundr goði carried fire around the land his ealh or hof was to be built on to hallow it.

þar er nú heitir á Svertingsstöðum. Hann reisti þar hof mikit…..Þat land fór Jörundr eldi ok lag&eht;i til hofs.

“There he called it Svertingsstöðum. He there build a temple…. That land, Jörundr carried fire around where he later laid his temple.” (Landnámabók)

A very basic example of the hammer rite can be found at http://www.reeves-hall.org/hammer.htm. The Wéoende Song which uses fire to make an aread sacred and used by many Theodish groups can be found at: http://www.englatheod.org/weonde.htm

The purpose of creating sacred space is simple, to make it acceptable for the Gods and Goddesses. One could certainly perform rites in space that is not sacred, and perhaps even have success with it. However, successful creation of sacred space gurantees that the space will not be intruded upon by ill wishing wights, not to mention makes the area more welcoming to the Gods.

4) Hallowing of food and drink: In the Heimskingla account we are told that the horns are passed over the fire, but we are not told why. Since fire is used to claim sacred space, it is perhaps safe to assume that it is to make the drink and/or food sacred. One can do this with the words, “Þórr uiki” in Old Norse or “Þunor wéoh,” in Old English both meaning “Thor make this sacred.”

5)Blessing: We are not told precisely the purpose behind blessing with blood in the Heimskringla account. The scholar Turville-Petre felt that it was to join men and Gods together.

“The meaning of the sacrificial feast, as Snorri saw it, is fairly plain. When blood was sprinkled over altars and men and the toasts were drunk, men were symbolically joined with gods of war and fertility, and with their dead ancestors, sharing their mystical powers. This is a form of communion.” (Turville-Petre. Myth and Religion of the North, p. 251).

That is some of the Gods’ power is transferred via the blood to those being blessed. This would be true of mead or any other liquid used for a blessing as well.

The liquid is poured into the blótbolli or blótorc, a bowl for expressly that purpose. The folk are then blessed using a hlauttein (Old Norse) or blóttind (Old English) which is a branch or twig with leaves. I have seen everythging from oak twigs to stalks of wheat used. The hlauttein is dipped in the liquid and then the folks are sprinkled with it. As far as how to sprinkle the folk I have seen a variety of methods, from slinging the liquid over many at once (useful at large gatherings) to simply gentlely laying the tine on each person individually. How you do it is largely up to you. It can be done with words along the lines of “May the Ése (Æsir) and Wen (Vanir) bless you.”

6) The Fulls – The prayers are then said by the priest. What prayers survive in the Lore seem to have followed a set pattern of 1) A “wassailing” or greeting of the god or Gods, a prime example being the one in the Sigdrífumál which opens with “Hail to thee Dæg, hail ye Dæg’s sons” and proceeds to “wassail” the Gods. 2) A boast of the god or Gods’ great deeds. A prayer to Thor in the Skaldskarpamál is just a simple list of ettins he has destroyed. Similarly, Cædmon’s Hymn boasts of the creation of the world. 3) A petition or request of some kind is made. In some cases instead of a petition or request, it may be simply an offering of thanks for gifts in the past. The petition or request need not be complex. It can be as simple as, “Please give us prosperity for the coming year.”

7) The Bragafull: If the group is a fellowship, kindred, or theod, the leader can then boast of the group’s past accomplishments and vow to do even greater ones.

8) The minni: The ancestors of those present are then toasted.

9) The housel or freast: The food and drink are consumed. Usually for faining this may just be a morsel of bread and a drink of mead. Often only mead is used. With the slaying of an animal though a full fledged feast may take place.

12) The yielding: The Gods are then given their share. A custom we developed in White Sage Kindred and Crawanest Fellowship was the use of a Gods’ plate. A portion of all the food from the feast is placed on the plate, and this is giving to the Gods at the end of the blot or faining.

13) The rite is concluded: One can then adjourn the rite. When Wednesbury Theod was a part of the Winland Ríce we used the phrase, “This rite has ended, now let is leave in frith and freeright.”

Blot or faining is central to Heathenry. We know that the Gods help us as we are told this in the lore. In Fjölsviðmál, it is said:

Tell me, Fjolsvith For I wish to know;
answer as I do ask
do they help award to their worshippers,
if need of help they have?

Ay they help award to their worshippers,
in hallowed stead if they stand;
there is never a need That neareth a man
but they lend a helping hand.
(Fjölsviðmál, Hollander translation 39 and 40)

In Hynduljóð the idea of men being rewarded for blot is touched upon as well:

He a high altar made me Of heaped stones–
all glary have grown The gathered rocks–
and reddened anew them with neats’ fresh blood;
for ay believed Ottar in the Ásynjur.
(Hynduljóð, Hollander translation verse 10)

Thus we know from the Lore that the Gods help us when we worship them in sacred space, lifting our voices up in prayer. This post has covered faining as described by the Heimskringla. For one based on the Old English Æcer-Bót go to http://swainblog.englatheod.org/?p=404

An Alternative Worship Outline

Most are familiar with blót or faining which although covered by dozens of Heathen writers always looks almost the same. What most do not realize is there is an alternative to that outline, one which is more flexible in its usages. The Æcer Bót (also known as the “Field Remedy” or “For Unfruitul Land”) is found in an Anglo-Saxon work known as the Lácunga or “Leech Cunning.” It is a semi-Christianized rite that is thought pagan in origin. It is also the only rite to survive in the Anglo-Saxon corpus, and perhaps the only one to survive outside of the sacrifices detailed in the Heimskringla. Never the less, it has rarely been looked to as an alternative to the standard blot outline (which although used for libations does not adapt well to that usage). It is given below:

Metrical Charm 1: For Unfruitful Land

Here is the solution, how you may improve your fields if the are not fertile, or if anything unwholesome has been done to them through sorcery or witchcraft.

At night, before dawn, take four turfs from the four quarters of your lands, and note how they previously stood. Then take oil and honey and yeast and milk from every cow that is in the land, and part of every kind of tree grown on the land, except hard beams, and part of every identifiable herb except the buckbean only, and add to them holy water.

Then drip it three times on the base of the turfs, and say these words: Crescite, grow, et multiplicamini, and multiply, et replete, and fill, terre, this earth. In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti sit benedicti. And say the Lord’s Prayer as often as the other.

And then take the turfs to church and let a priest sing four masses over them, and let the green surface be turned towards the altar, and then, before sunset, let the turfs be brought to the places where they were previously. And let the man have four crosses of quickbeam made for him, and write upon each end: Matthew and Mark, Luke and John. Lay the crucifix on the bottom of the pit, then say: Crux Matheus, crux Marcus, crux Lucas, crux sanctus Iohannes. Then take the turfs and set them down there, and say these words nine times, ‘Crescite’ as before, and the Lord’s Prayer as often, and then turn eastward, and humbly bow down nine times, and then say these words:

Eastward I stand, entreating favours,
I pray the glorious Lord, I pray the great Lord,
I pray the holy warden of heaven,
Earth I pray and heaven above
And the steadfast, saintly Mary
And heaven’s might and highest hall
That by grace of God I might this glamour
Disclose with teeth. Through trueness of thought
Awaken these plants for our worldly profit,
Fill these fields through firm belief,
Make these fields pleasing, as the prophet said
That honour on earth has he who dutifully
deals out alms, doing God’s will.

Then turn yourself three times awiddershins, then stretch out flat and there intone the litanies. Then say; Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus to the end: then sing the Benedicte with arms extended, and the Magnificat, and the Lord’s Prayer three times, and commend it to Christ and Saint Mary and the Holy Cross, for love and for reverence, and for the grace of him who owns the land, and all those who are under him. When all that is done, then take unfamiliar seeds from beggars and give them twice as much as you took from them, and let him gather all his plough apparatus together; then let him bore a hole in the plough beam and put in there styrax and fennel and hallowed soap and hallowed salt.Then take the seed, set it on the plough’s body, then say:

Erce, Erce, Erce, Mother of Earth,
May the Almighty grant you, the Eternal Lord,
Fields sprouting and springing up,
Fertile and fruitful,
Bright shafts of shining millet,
And broad crops of barley
And white wheaten crops
And all the crops of earth.
May God Almighty grant the owner,
(And his hallows who are in heaven),
That his land be fortified against all foes,
And embattled against all evil,
From sorceries sown throughout the land.
Now I pray the Wielder who made this world
That no cunning woman, nor crafty man,
May weaken the words that are uttered here.

Then drive forward the plough and cut the first furrow, then say:

Hail, Earth, mother of all;
Be abundant in God’s embrace,
Filled with food for our folk’s need.

Then take all kinds of flour and bake a loaf as broad as a man’s palm, and knead it with milk and holy water, and lay it under the first furrow. Then say:

Field filled with food, to feed mankind,
Blooming brightly, be you blessed,
In the holy name of He who made heaven, and earth on which we live, May the God who made these grounds grant to us his growing gifts That each kind of seed may come to good.

Then say three times, Crescite in nomine patris, sit benedicti. Amen and the Lord’s Prayer three times

The Christian elements in the prayers themselves can be struck out, leaving wholly Heathen prayers without any damage to them. But this is not what we are looking at, what we are looking at is the general outline of the rite. The aim being to design an alternative outline one can use as a framework for other rites.

The beginning of the rite involves taking four turfs of earth from the field. You then mix, “yeast and milk from every cow that is in the land, and part of every kind of tree grown on the land, except hard beams, and part of every identifiable herb except the buckbean only, and add to them holy water.” And you dip the turfs in this. One then has these blessed by a priest. Once this is done one creates four crosses of quickbeam, and place these in a pit with the turfs. Ignoring the obvious Christian actions, this part of the rite could be Heathen in origin. The laying of the quickbeams resemble the use of symbols to perform land takings outlined in the Icelandic Landnamabok

Þeir fóru til Íslands ok sigldu fyrir norðan landit ok vestr um Sléttu í fjörðinn. Þeir settu öxi í Reistargnúp ok kölluðu Því öxarfjörð. Þeir settu örn upp fyrir vestan ok kölluðu Þar ArnarÞ&uacyte;fu. En í Þriðja stað settu Þ;eir kross. Þar nefndu Þeir Krossás. Svá helguðu þeir sér allan öxarfjörð.

“They set an ax on Reistargnúp and called it Öxarfjörð. They set an eagle up in the west and called it Arnarþúfu. And the third they set a cross. They named it Krossás. So they hallowed all of Öxarfjörð.

The use of symbols at cardinal points of the land is seen in other mixed faiths context in the Landnamabok and some Icelandic sagas. The only time one sees the use of anything other than symbols in land taking is for temples (in which case fire was used). Therefore, the Christian who adapted the Heathen rite probably unknowingly included a rite for land taking within the Æcer Bót. The taking of land in the Icelandic corpus had religious overtones whether the land was used as a farm or a temple. Therefore, this portion of the rite is likely to be a way of making the land sacred to the Ése (Æsir) and Wen (Vanir).

One then turns counter clockwise three times, and then lays down flat on the ground invoking deities. The meaning of these actions are unknown, but probably are done in respect to the Gods and Goddesses. It is also likely they may simply be done for luck, or were a Christian substitute for dancing. Being prostate is perhaps a survival of rites mentioned by Taticus in regards to the Semnones. The Semnones would only enter a certain grove bound, and if they fell had to roll out of it. The Christian prayers said at this point are likely a subsitution for some form of Heathen prayers where one laid flat on the ground to pronounce them. The deities could have been Woden, Frea (Frey), and Frige (Frigga) or any variety of two Gods and a Goddess abased on the Christian combination here of Christ, God, and Mother Mary. More than likely these were short prayers inviting the Gods and Goddesses. Again this is speculation, as much of this study of the AElig;cer Bót is. Next comes the blessing of the plow with unknown seeds, followed by the Earth prayer. The plow is then driven forward and it is followed by another prayer. Bread or cakes (perhaps such as the cakes that were given to the Gods Goddesses Bede mentioned in reference to Solmonaþ, and perhaps of which the the cross buns eaten at Easter are a survival). This was followed by another prayer asking for fertility of the land and good crops.

With this information, we can formulate an outline that is quite unlike that of the blot seen in the Heimskringla. This faining is more suited to non-animal rites such as libations and the giving of bread and cakes. For the outline, one can probably dispense with many of the superstitious elements that may owe more to Christianity than Heathenry. One might outline it as below:

1) Preparation: In this portion of the rite outline, one prepares whatever they may need for the rite. Bake bread, prepare turfs such as in this rite, or obtain mead.

2) Blessing of gifts to be given: Here we are going to see part of the blot outline. Although holy water (water drawn from a spring, the dew, or brook before sunrise on a Spring morning) may be used instead of blood or mead. Most modern Heathens would probably prefer the use of mead. Just as in the blót the items would be blessed by sprinkling them with water or mead.

3) Creation of sacred space: One can then perform the Wéonde Song, Hammer Rite, or erect sacred symbols in order to make the land sacred.

4) Ritual Actions: One then turns counter clockwise three times and lays prostate on the ground, and says prayers to three deities. The content of these prayers is unknown, and the Christian substitutions give us no clues. The only possible clue they may give is these are prayers commonly used by Christians for protection. But more than likely they were an invite to the Gods and Goddesses.

5) The First Bede: This prayer is the first of the major two prayers of the rite. This bede if one follows the Æcer Bót is a song of praise. The Goddess Earth is greeted (or rather her mother) with the traditional greeting of “wes hál” which generally would be followed by praise of the deity.

6) More Ritual Actions: As we are trying to create a general ritual action, one need not drive a plow through their yard. But one will need to dig a hole. This hole is where one will put the offering being given to the Gods.

7) The Second Bede: A shorter bede in praise of the Gods and Goddesses giving the gifts to them.

8)Offering: One pours the mead or places bread in the hole and follows this with a prayer asking for gifts from the Gods and Goddeses.

This outline is perhaps more versatile than the blót outline offered by Snorri in the Heimskringla. No doubt it had entirely different uses, and may have originally been a rite for blessing a plow instead of a charm for making land fruitful. That is was a “sacrifice” can be seen by the burial of bread or cakes at its end, just as Bede mentioned in his work De Temporum Ratione.

Being a Heathen Father

Perhaps nothing is more important to Heathenry than Heathen fathers, except for Heathen mothers. It does not matter if one is Asatru, Odinist, Theodish, or Irminist, parenting is important for all Heathens that have children. It is the parents of young Heathens that ensure there will be a next generation. Being male I can only write about this from the perspective of being a father. I am sure motherhood has a totally different dynamic.

My situation is unique, as I live 12 hours from my son. That does not mean I do not play a role in his life. There are visits, presents, and many, many phone calls. I try to talk to him about the gods and the ancestors, and he launches into these topics with an enthusiasm not typical of a six year old. Recently, we talked about Þunor and whether he caused hurricanes. We also talked about whether he was more powerful than the Christian god. Another time we talked about the “Mommies” his name for the Idesa (Disir). He shows amazing insight into such things for such a young age. But then he has been read kinder Eddas since a baby, and knows his lore pretty well for his age.

Being a father goes beyond teaching your son or daughter about the Gods and Goddesses. It also means being a role model. I am sad to say, that due to my illness, I have not always been the best of role models for Oswin. It is not that I have not tried, it is simply with fluctuating mood swings, it is hard to stay constant enough to provide such a role. Still, I would like to think now that I have been in treatment for several years, that I am a good role model. To be a good role model a father should exemplify the Heathen thews or virtues of generosity, guestliness, bravery, and pride (to read on these goto Honor Revisited). Children learn by observation, so when they see you being generous with others or showing pride in what you do, they do so also. This is best done in the course of daily life as your children watch you interact with others. Do not make a big show of it, in fact it may be best to let the child figure out why their father does certain things. This is unless perhaps you are talking about something you did in ritual, then you may wish to offer an explanation or ask the child if they understand (for example, “Do you know why Daddy did that in symbel?”)

Perhaps more important though is letting them learn from your mistakes as well. That may mean explaining something to them in terms they can understand, but it is a vital part of learning. I have had to do this a few times myself, explaining that Dad did something wrong and now needs to make up for it. This teaches them about scyld (skuld) or obligations to make up for wrongs done. Indeed, this can be used as part of their discipline as well, making the child give up something in payment for anything they may have done wrong. This can also serve as a valuable teaching tool in Wyrd, when you do something right good things happen, and when you do something bad, bad things happen. Of course, this is an over simplistic view of Wyrd, but it is best to keep things simple for young children.

Heathen fatherhood is perhaps the highest role any werman (male) can hope to obtain. I value the title of “Father” more than I do any of the various titles I have held in the Troth, AFA, Ealdriht, and the theods I have been a member of. I hope others feel the same, and as they do, try to be the best fathers they can be. The next generation of Heathens is counting on us.

No Lone Wolves

Unless someone is in an area where there are no Heathens, there should be no solitaries. Heathenry (which includes Asatru, Odinism, Theodism, and Irminism) is after all a communal religion. The Gods look at us as communities as much as individuals, perhaps more so. In that way, Heathens should be a lot like wolves, lone wolves are rare, and the pack means everything. Wolves hunt together, sleep together, raise young together, play together, howl at the Moon together… do just about everything together. They have a hierarchy much as Theodism does. and set customs and traditions. Heathens should always keep this in mind. That is not to say that we cannot act as individuals as well. Each wolf has its own personality after all, and thinks for its self. We can conduct individual rites and have our own personal relationships with the Gods, ancestors, and land wights. We can even blot (which I mean in the Theodish sense of the slaying of and giving of animal flesh) the Gods on our own. But the Gods expect us to behave as communities much like the ancient tribes of old. There, within the law codes, the smallest unit for legal purposes was the kindred, sibb, or family (pick your thing to call it). Fines were not levied against individuals but entire kindreds. Duels were fought but more common was the blood feud. Ancient Heathens acted together as a family unit, as clans, and on a larger level tribes. Lone wolves were rare.

So while we are in an age where there are more internet Heathens than not, real life networking is important. If we are to properly worship the Gods we must do so in groups. And the only way for groups and fellowships to form is for someone to reach out and contact other Heathens. It is time to stop just talking about Heathenry on message boards, email lists, and IMs. It is time to start making phone calls, setting up moots, and getting together in real life. The day of being a solitary sitting behind a computer screen should be long gone. No more of the sitting behind your screen making inane comments about some Heathen topic like race, and then sulking off to pour mead out to the Gods alone in one’s back yard.

No Heathens in your area? Try to generate interest in Heathenry. Talk at local pagan events. Organize get togethers for those interested in Heathenry. Maybe even teach a class or two. When I first became Heathen there was a total of about four known Heathens in the state of Missouri. It took time and organization to find other Heathens, to get things organized. We taught classes, gave out flyers, and promoted Heathenry as much we could. Once there was enough Heathens, we organized Walburges ’94, a gathering with about sixty people present. Now there are over one hundred Heathens in the State of Missouri. As said before Heathens worship in groups, and the only way for those groups to get organized is to take the first steps. There should be no more lone wolves.

Manu and Mannus

In their ancient songs, their only way of remembering or recording the past they celebrate an earth-born god Tuisco, and his son Mannus, as the origin of their race, as their founders. To Mannus they assign three sons, from whose names, they say, the coast tribes are called Ingaevones; those of the interior, Herminones; all the rest, Istaevones. Some, with the freedom of conjecture permitted by antiquity, assert that the god had several descendants, and the nation several appellations, as Marsi, Gambrivii, Suevi, Vandilij, and that these are nine old names.(Tacitus, The Agricola and Germania, A. J. Church and W. J. Brodribb, trans., (London: Macmillan, 1877), pp. 87ff )

This is the only information we have on the god Mannus. However, it does not end there. In Hindu myth there is a figure known as Manu. Manu is said to have been the progenitor of mankind, its first king, and its savior in a great flood. Manu had several sons like Mannus, and these in turns became kings (thus the leaders of peoples). The myths in this respect are similar enough that one must wonder if there is an Indo-European connection. Is there a link between Manu and Mannus? One may never know. However, it would be interesting if there were, as it could mean many of the myths attributed to Manu were true of Mannus as well.

The Role of Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis

In religions as scholarly as Germanic Heathenry, there is a big question about whether Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis or UPG for short has a place at all. UPG is a conclusion about the Gods or beliefs of Heathenry that is not based on objective observation of the lore. It can be arrived at by a mere feeling, or after a highly ritualized and involved spá rite. The key is that it has little to no basis in the lore as we have it. Most assumptions about the Gods, myths, and rites are based on careful research of the lore often involving years of study. This is done with the idea that in order to reconstruct Heathenry we must first arrive at what Heathenry was, who its Gods were, what its rites were, what its beliefs were. We must, in many people’s minds start off where Heathenry left off. And this leads us to the idea that there is no room for UPG or anything that is not totally objective in its basis. But that was not the way of ancient Heathenry.

Indeed, we see in the lore much of what could be called UPG. There were seidhkonas and others that used auguries to find out information on the events of the day. Scopas and skalds spun tales about the Gods. No doubt even peasants paid heed to dreams about the Gods. And while this may not appear to be objective observation to us, the ancient Heathens no doubt saw it as being a way of getting at the facts. It is a catch 22. In order to be true to ancient Heathenry we must include things such as sp´ which we consider subjective observation, yet if we include such things we must give up the idea that only things based on objective observation can be included in what we consider lore.

Therefore, what role can spá and other arts play in our religions? The key I think comes in the phrase Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis. The key here being the personal part of it. If say, several people arrive at the same conclusion using spá for example, it ceases to be personal, and becomes a consensus. It is still very subjective in nature, but it begins to carry some weight to it. A good example of this is the idea Frige (Frigga) spins the threads used by the Wyrdæ in weaving. No where in the lore is this stated, yet several Heathens have separately arrived at that conclusion. The fact they did so separately may indicate it has some basis in truth. So while UPG may not on its own be acceptable when it is arrived at by a single person, perhaps when it is arrived at separately by many different people it becomes more than mere UPG. Of course, if it contradicts known lore, then that is a different matter.

Part of the problem I think comes down to confidence and trust. No one in Heathenry today feels confident enough at spa´ or other such arts such as rune reading to say for a fact that what they have seen is a part of the lore, and no one trusts them enough to say it is. This is perhaps due to modern Heathenry’s relative youthfulness in that it has only been around for 30 years. And the other problem is that our methods for spaá are largely still very experimental. Therefore, it could be years, perhaps generations, before we have enough confidence in such arts before we can accept their observations at being truth.

At some point though, we should accept that we could be able to arrive at ideas about the Gods in the same ways the ancient Heathens did. Indeed, if someone has a good grounding in the lore, and are skilled at sp´ then perhaps we should even encourage them to seek out hidden truths about the Gods and Goddesses. This may mean new tales about the Gods, observations on their traits, even visitations by the Gods themselves. It is a quandary though, one not easily resolved. We were given an incomplete picture of ancient Heathenry. Yet we look to be totally objective about what little we have, but because we are being objective and not allowing for UPG we will always have a incomplete picture. At the same time, many want Heathenry to become organic, but it cannot be organic without allowing for the same methods the ancients used at arriving at the truth.

These conflicts will continue until some agreement is reached on when UPG is acceptable and when it is not. One method of course, already mentioned, is the idea that many UPGs arrived at separately, but saying the same thing can be accepted as being truthful. This would be a great leap for modern Heathenry though, but is one that perhaps eventually needs to be made.