Friday, September 28, 2012

Ain't No Woman Like the One-Eyed God

Someone recently asked about gay men and their role in Asatru.  They had been somewhat put off by the emphasis on sexual differentiation and gender roles in Wicca.  This was my response:

There is certainly sexual fluidity already present in the lore.  While many of them
have been lost, perhaps because of Christian squeamishness, there are
stories of quite a number of the gods being in subservient or
"feminine" roles.  Odin is the Allfather, but in Lokasenna Loki talks
about Odin's having spent time as a milkmaid.  Odin also learned magic
from Freya, some of which may have involved gender-bending.

Thor objects strenuously to being dressed up as not just a bride but
as the beautiful Freya in order to regain his power (hammer).  That
the idea does not come from Loki but from Heimdall is significant.
Loki happily dresses up as a lady's maid in order to go with Thor to
Thrym, but that's Loki for you.  He got pregnant and gave birth as a
mare, so I doubt that anything feminine slows him down after that.

Frey gives away his sword in order to marry Gerd.  He is associated
with peace and fertile fields although he is also remembered as a
warrior king by both the Danish and Swedish royal houses, which he is
said to have founded.  Frey gives us the "total man": a warrior when
he needs to be, a king, a lover and also a keeper of peace.  I'm not a
Freyswoman per se, but I really like him.

I've observed that in Asatru being gay might be treated with some
ribaldness, but I have overall not noticed in being in a cruel way.
We might tease married folks in the same way.  This is only in the
Troth mind you; there are Asatru groups that really value traditional
sex/gender roles and thus see being homosexual as bad for the
reproductive future.  I think we all agree that they are full of it.

Our kindred has 6 females and 8 males.  One of the males is five years
old.  The men tend to be capital-D Dudes who do MMA and shoot a lot of
guns.  We do have gay members and it just doesn't come up in
conversation.  I'm reminded of a column I was reading by a Voudou
houngan yesterday.  He said that Voudou is a community religion.  An
individual may be gay, but since the community and its worship are not
focused on sex in any way (unlike in Wicca) this isn't an issue.

I just finished reading Ronald Hutton's "Triumph of the Moon".  Wicca
is traditionally very focused on sexuality (fertility) and sexual
differentiation, to the point that there have to be separate trads for
gays and lesbians.  The Radical Faeries and the Dianics are the first
two who spring to mind.  Gardner's Wicca started out being
male-dominated, though focused on binary sexuality.  The switch to the
Goddess being more emphasized than the God is a 1970s development.
This has both drawn men to Wicca as well as driven them away.

Asatru does not demand that a god and goddess be worshiped together,
and as hard polytheists we insist that the gods and goddesses are not
"faces" of one God and Goddess.  Choices of patron are very personal.
My husband is an attorney whose patron is Loki.  I'm an Army NCO whose
patron is Thor.  I invoke Frigga when I'm at home; she has a shrine in
my kitchen.

Since Asatru life is focused on deeds, not magic, this also spins our
religion in a way far different from Wicca, but that's another essay,
and already exists out there.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


One challenge that’s come up in our domestic practice is which heathen holidays to celebrate.  The normative calendar seems to be the one posted on the Asatru Alliance website (  This is a calendar of not only seasonally-related days but days of remembrance for Asatru heroes and martyrs as well.  November 9, for existence, is the Day of Remembrance for Queen Sigrid the Haughty.  Who wouldn’t want to celebrate that?

However, when there are numerous holidays dedicated to the Idises, two to Leif Erickson and others that drift in from the Anglo-Saxon and Wicca calendars (Lammas/Freyfaxi), it’s time to sit down and evaluate what to celebrate and what just to note in passing.  We’re a Danish tradition household, so Lammas isn’t one we observe.  Call it Freyfaxi if you will; even though Ingvi-Frey is the founder of Denmark, I really doubt the ancestors had an available calendar that would tell them when August 1 was.

The ones Sven and I celebrate draw from natural cycles, Danish tradition, and the fact that we live in the U.S. in the 21st century.  January 1 might be the last day of Jul (more on this in a later column) but we observe it as plain old New Year’s Day. 

February 14 is given sometimes as “Feast of Vali”, probably because it resembles “Valentine”.  If it wasn’t a heathen holy day, why not just call it “Valentine’s Day” and observe in honour of Freya?  Since Freya is fond of love poems and likes being invoked in matters of the heart, she’d definitely enjoy that.

February 2 is Candlemas/Feast of the Purification in the Catholic and Orthodox calendars and Imbolc in the Wiccan.  I’ve seen some heathens observe this in honour of Frigga, because of the Imbolc connection to sheep and milk.  Here’s an insight; the early days of February are also the time of the Lupercalia, a Roman holiday so ancient that even the Romans weren’t sure what it was about.  What’s important to know about Lupercalia is that it involved sheep, wool, and sheep’s milk.  Frigga can be superimposed on that aspect of Lupercalia, but I am personally not comfortable with that. 

February 2 is also The Charming of the Plow and sacred to the Idises.  Sven is particularly devoted to the Idises, so use this date to honour them.  The Charming of the Plow is, I’ve read, also a day to commemorate the wooing of Gerda by Frey.  If one subscribes to the idea that Gerda represents the enclosed field (gard), this would be the day to get organized to prepare the fields for plowing and seeding, which Frey is all about.

Plus, you have the option of telling your workplace, “I’m going to be out on xday, it’s a religious holiday for me—The Charming of the Plow.”  They’re definitely going to be curious, if they don’t fire you on the spot for sounding like you’re channeling Borat.

Ostara is also one I find a little problematic.  It’s the beginning of spring, which may or may not have escaped the ancestor’s notice; they only really acknowledged two seasons: summer and winter.  The name is only attested to in Grimm.  We celebrate this one because our kindred does.

May 1 is observed in many northern countries, and some heathens do as well.  We don’t.  There is an ancient custom that if you are a heathen and call it Beltane and observe it as a union of Frey and Freya, that Gullinbursti will come down from Alfheim and eat you.  No, there isn’t.  I made that up.

Summer Solstice is a big deal.  Call it Midsummer, call it Summer Finding, it doesn’t matter.  It’s the Solstice.  You can’t miss it.  On the other hand, we don’t really pay attention to the autumnal equinox.

November is full of holidays, some of which have been superimposed on modern ones.  November 11 is Veterans Day/Armistice Day and called the feast of the Einharjar.  We would observe this one anyway, but thinking about it as a day to contemplate the war dead who may be with Freya and the All-Father is appropriate and, I find, uplifting.

Sven and I have recently found out that Jul might be a holiday to reserve for January rather than its current overlap with Christmas.  We’re still discussing how to accommodate this, although I bear in mind southern hemisphere heathens who celebrate Jul in June.  Last year we observed the Winter Solstice, but just because Jul is placed around the Winter Solstice doesn’t mean it has to be.  We might end up extending our winter holidays and inserting more into our own household practice, with appropriate feasting and drinking.  I’m sure no one would mind.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Looking for feedback

Really simple...I've been posting since January and the only comment I've received on any of my entries was a joke comment.  If you're reading, talk to me, even if it's just to say hi.  My site numbers say you're all out there, so don't be a stranger.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pagan Pride 2012

Pagan Pride day was this past Saturday here in The Whale's Vagina.  Sven and I are members of a small independent Asatru kindred, and with one member having moved out of state, another accepting a teaching job overseas and some sporadic attendance from others due to ill health or childcare, we had become mildly concerned with its survival.  A number of months ago I suggested a table at Pagan Pride and we agreed that at $10 to reserve a booth space, it was a small enough bet to take, especially since most of us would be attending anyway.

Sven and I also sprung $50 for a 9x9 (hee) sun canopy.  Everyone brought outdoor chairs and we had two folding tables. 

Having that booth was very worth the work and time.  It was very popular.  At one point Sven was left alone for an hour towards the end and he had no fewer than four people who were very interested.  Two others appeared at our Pubmoot the next day.  What drew them in was one of our ladies using a drop spindle, plus the Norse mythology books on our table.  Three of us did rune readings, but I still think that our kinswoman spinning in a traditional method was the most eye-catching thing.

Like most Pagan events, this one is mostly Wiccan.  The ADF had a table, as did a small and strange little Thelemite group that seemed to be Goth early 20-somethings.  Along with us, that was it for the non-Wiccan contingent.  We had a lot of people saying that they'd been looking for an Asatru group but been unable to find one.

I think we had fewer vendors than in other years, but there was very nice stuff.  A full list can be found on the San Diego Pagan Pride website, but I'd like to especially plug Katla's "The Well and Spindle" shop on Etsy.  Katla had a physical booth at SDPP, and it was beautiful.  Hopefully the booth will lead to more Etsy sales.  She makes runes and Viking knit necklaces along with hoodoo oils and sprays. 

My take ended up being a cloisonne Mjollnir in turquoise and red, an altar tile with a Mjollnir on it from Katla's shop, a replacement for the ceramic sun-and-moon pendant my cat broke earlier this year and some soaps.

It was a long day.  Sven, a kinsman and I were setting up at 8:00 am or so, and we broke down nine hours later.  Sven made copies of informational flyers, brought subs for lunch, and other errands.  He is fussy about who he hangs out with, and I knew that he'd declare the event "fluffy bunny", but at one point there were three other godsfearing redneck Asatru males with him, talking about going shooting next week, so that was fun for him.

Next year, we'll have a vinyl banner, informational flyers or cards for how to get in touch with us, and nobody will have to stay all day because that many hours in the sun gets brutal.  We'll have a different team setting up and breaking down.

Hope your weekend was fun and productive as well!