Praise Odin, the All-Father

Odin isn’t a Deity I’ve prayed to or worshiped a lot in my Heathen path (heresy, I know). Perhaps it was the whole Father thing that reminded me too much of the Christian God or maybe it’s because I’ve always been more drawn towards female Deities. But lately, I’ve come to feel a need to connect with the Divine Masculine. As a Vanatruar, I moved naturally towards Lord Freyr. But today is Father’s Day and so I came to think of the All-Father Odin.

Most male Deities have fatherly aspects but Odin particularly so. His wisdom and watchful presence as well as His willingness to sacrifice by taking from Himself, all these are qualities of a great paternal figure. He truly is the High Father.

Here’s a beautiful song about our All-Father that I’ve listened to on repeat today:

By the sea

Today I went and sat by the sea to write for a bit. Then I took a walk on the beach in search of things to put on that altar I’m still working on. I ended up tumbling upon some interesting things.

Low tide
Love the colour on this jellyfish
Fun fact about jellyfish: those rings on their bodies are actually their reproductive organs
This bivalve grew with a sea snail shell stuck to it

To Mardöll

Mardöll,
Shining Maiden,
Glistening over waters eternal,
My longing for You reawakens each summer

Mardöll,
Mistress of waves,
Lady of seas and Ruler of oceans,
Before I could speak or walk, already You had enchanted me

Mardöll,
Great Dís of light,
Your glory is known on every shore,
The one who sees You never forgets as long as he lives

And yet, I know that beyond the comforting sea shimmer,
There lies Rán in wait.
Her net is ready, She longs for corpses, to take the lives of men.
How many have not suffocated in the powerful bosoms of Her Nine Daughters? How many mighty men reduced in an instant to food for the fishes?

So when I see You, Mardöll, my heart fills with love and dread. I see Your darkness and Your light and I know You are greater than both.

”The Daughters of Ægir and Rán” by Hans Dahl.

What is the Heathen view of sexual orientation and gender identity?

We live in a world where the two main religions have a long history of hostility towards LGBTQ+ people. That enmity is based on certain scriptural verses that some argue are interpreted wrong (see Matthew Vines and Imam Ludovic Mohamed Zahed for examples of those arguments). But for the majority of their history, most of Christianity and Islam have been opposed to LGBTQ+ rights. And that has led to the idea that there is an inherent LGBTQ+ phobia in religion as a whole.

That is of course completely wrong. If you look outside the Abrahamic religions, you will find many traditions that not only accept but value those who are outside the gender and sexual norm. To name just one example: In many Native American cultures there is a tradition of two-spirits, people who are believed to have both a masculine and a feminine spirit and who are valued and respected for their unique perspective.

But what is the Heathen view of LGBTQ+ people? Well, the short answer is: it varies.

The thing with Heathenry and many other Polytheistic faiths is that they are not ”religions of the book”. That is, we have no scriptures that we consider to be the authoritative and unquestionable word of the Divine. Although, there are definitely some people (mostly ex-Christians) who try and bring a ‘Protestant view’ to the Eddas and Sagas and will label people a heretic for not believing literally eveything they say. But that is a minority view and a rather bizarre one considering most of the stories we have about the Old Ways were written down by Christians, sometimes even to mock belief in our Gods. But I digress.

The views on LGBTQ+ people among Heathens will usually not be based on one or other verse and it can therefore vary greatly. In my experience, most Heathens tend to be open-minded but there are some exceptions. The typical ‘Brosatru’ macho guy who fancies himself a modern day Viking in an age he considers to have been ruined by feminism and soy milk will usually have a negative view of those who don’t fit into traditional gender roles by, for example, loving someone of the same sex.

And then you have the outright fascists like the folks at Asatrú Folk Assembly, for who LGBTQ-phobia is but one item on their smörgåsbord of bigotry.

Finding community can for this reason be a minefield for LGBTQ+ Heathens but it is most certainly possible. If you are looking for such an inclusive group then Heathens Against Hate has a list you can check out.

Another question you might have is: What were the ancient Norse views on gender and sexual orientation? The thing is that there aren’t a lot of references to it in the literature. I know of no stories about transgender people or same-sex relations between women. But we know a bit about the views about sex between men.

The Norse had a term, ergi, which referred to men who were considered to lack in masculinity. It also had strong connotations with taking the passive role in sexual relations. Being an ergi was considered a negative thing. So much so, that if a man was called ‘ergi’ by another, he had a legal right to challenge his ‘accuser’ to a duel to the death to restore his honour.

It is also interesting to note that the one who penetrated (which was seen as a dominant act) was often not shamed in the same way.

So, from what we can tell, the Norse usually had a negative view of male homosexuality. But does it matter to modern Heathens?

I’d like to pose the question: why should it? The Norse also kept slaves, raided and pillaged and did many other morally repugnant things. They were people of their time and their views were influenced by the culture they lived in. We live in different times, with different norms which also influence us. But we are free to agree or disagree with any cultural norms and come to our own conclusions.

From what I have seen in my life, I have come to believe that it is good both for individuals and for society at large that people be allowed to be who they were born to be and live the way they see fit, as long as they do not hurt others. Forcing people to deny their own nature only causes unnecessary suffering, stifles creativity and stops people from contributing their own unique perspectives to society. It is a loss for everyone and I simply cannot believe it is the will of the Gods. That is why I personally will always promote LGBTQ+ inclusive Heathenry.

Eco-Friday: Turning plastic into food??

It’s no secret the world has a plastic pollution problem. The oceans are filled with it and more than 380 millions of tonnes are still being manufactured every year. But the question is not just how do we stop using so much plastic and how do we get in all out the seas but also: what do we do then with all the plastic waste?

There is recycling but the problem is that a lot of plastics aren’t recyclable and the types that are can only be a certain amount of times. There’s always incineration but that releases more CO2 into the atmosphere and that’s the last thing we need right now.

Well, here’s some good news in the fight against plastic pollution: a team of scientists have figured out a way to turn plastic into vanillin, a common flavouring agent.

Read more about the story here:

https://interestingengineering.com/scientists-convert-plastic-bottles-into-vanillin-using-bacteria

Are Freya and Frigga the same Goddess?

(I’m rewritting this post because the previous one had some formatting problems)

When you start getting into Norse Paganism, you’ll notice that there are many similarities between the two main Goddesses Freya and Frigga. They both own falcon feather cloaks, are associated with seidr and weaving related imagery and They have husbands with almost identical names. Just to name a few things.

So, are They the same? Truth is, there really isn’t consensus. Not even among experts.

In this post, I’ll go over some of the pros and cons to the theory that They are the same and then I’ll give my own personal opinion on the matter.

Freya and Loki flyte in an illustration (1895) by Lorenz Frølich

Cons

Their Names: Contrary to what one might assume at first glance, Their names aren’t actually that similar. Frigga means ‘Beloved’ (presumably as in ‘the Beloved of Odin’) while Freya means ‘The Lady’ and was likely originally a title rather than a name.

Different tribes: Frigga is an Æsir and the wife of Odin. Freya is a member of the Vanir, a tribes of Deities associated with fertility, magic and nature. Their parentage and lineage are also different.

Addressed as different Beings: In the stories about the Gods, Frigg and Freya are written as different individuals. They speak both to and about each other and the other Deities also address Them separately. On example of this is in Lokasenna, the infamous poem where Loki insults all the Gods in attendance at a banquet.

Frigga is the only one besides Odin who is allowed to sit on His throne Hliðskjálf. 1895 illustration by Lorenz Frølich.

Pros

Their Husbands’ Names: Frigga is married to Odin, the chief of the Æsir Gods. Freya is married to someone name Óðr, who we aren’t told a lot about other than He’s always away and that Freya cries tears of gold from longing for Him.
Now, this could be another case of names just sounding alike. But the fact is that the name Odin and Óðr have similar meanings. Óðr can be translated as furious, fervent, mad one or frenzied one while Odin means ‘Lord of frenzy’. Freya’s husband always being away also reminds one of Odin, who is known to travel far and wide in search of wisdom. Many experts believed that Óðr and Odin are simply different names for the same Deity.

Seidr: Both Frigga and Freya are practitioners of seidr magic and have imagery associated with it, such as weaving. Freya, being a Vanir, is proficient in the art of magic but so is Frigga. The Beloved of Odin is said to sit at the spinning wheel that weaves the threads of fate and that She knows all secrets; something that even Odin does not.

Æsir by adoption: Freya is a Vanir but She was adopted into the Æsir tribe following the Æsir-Vanir war and was the one who introduced seidr to the Æsir. The fact that She taught Odin in the art shows that She, just like Frigga, knows a lot He doesn’t. One theory is that Freya became Frigga the Beloved when She married Odin.

Freya weeps tears of gold for Her lost love. Painting by Gustav Klimt.

My personal belief

One interesting thing about the historic worship of Freya and the other Vanir is that it was a highly regional thing. While Frigga and the other Aesir are attested throughout the Germanic world, Freya and the Vanir were mostly worshiped in southern Sweden. The city of Uppsala was the center of the Vanir cult and the further away from that city you move, the lesser archaeological findings there are of Vanir worship and more findings there are of Æsir worship. The existence of Freya’s cult is actually not attested in archaeology outside of Scandinavia.
Which then begs the question: was what we today call Vanatru originally it’s own religion? Is the story of the Æsir-Vanir war about the combining of two separate pantheons into one? Many historians believe so.

My personal belief is that Frigga and Freya are but two forms of the same Mother Goddess that exists in almost every Polytheistic culture. As a Neoplatonist, I also happen to believe They are all ultimately the same. Our Eternal Divine Mother is everywhere and always the same, no matter Uppsala, Tokyo or Kolkata.

But I’m neither a historian nor an expert of the ancient Norse. So, don’t take my word for it. Each must seek out the truth for themselves and draw their own conclusions.

A Sol’s Day in the Sun

The summer in Sweden is painfully short so it bums me out that I will have to spend most of it at work. I like my job but I prefer being out in the sun. So, I’m making sure to spend so much time as I can in nature on Sundays since it’s the only day of the week where I have a fully free schedule.

Today I went out for a run in the woods and tried out my new running backpack. I bought it recently as a reward to myself after reaching 150 pages on my novel. I’m aiming for at least 300 pages so that means I’m about halfway through. It’s a nice feeling.

By the way, if you want to read some of my writing you can find a novella I wrote here. It’s free and will always be.

It’s World Environment Day! Here’s one of the easiest ways to help the Earth.

There wasn’t a Eco-Friday post yesterday and there might not be for a while. I got a new internship at a café this week and it’s pretty hectic Monday through Friday. In the near future, I’ll probably only post on weekends. Then maybe more often, depending on what happens.

I’ll still be posting about environment issues regularly and today in particular I’d like to bring attention to the fact that it’s World Environment Day!

This special day was founded by the UN as a way to bring awareness to environmental issue and to encourage activism and action for our planet. Today is a good day to ponder about what you as an individual can do to help our common home. It could be reducing your meat consumption, making an habit of buying used things rather than new ones, take the train instead of the plane etc. Not everyone can do everything but everyone can do something.

One problem when getting involved in helping the environment is that it can be hard to find the time. People have jobs, families and diverse obligations that might mean they don’t exactly have the time or energy to do things like go to protests, join activist groups and write petitions. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot this work week, where I haven’t had the opportunity to do much except work, eat, sleep and write.

But luckily, there are a number of easy and non time consuming ways that you can do something for the Earth. Today, I’d like to share one of my favourites: using an eco-positive search engine.

Almost all of us use search engines on a regular basis. Whether it’s to look up phone numbers, research topics of interest or just double check the spelling of words, it’s not uncommon to use these websites several times a day. What if I told you, that each time you do you could make a positive impact on the environment? That is possible with Ecosia and OceanHero.

Ecosia is a search engine that plants trees. All revenue is used in tree planting projects. Ecosia users have collectively planted over 127 million trees since the website was launched.

For some a tree is also a home

OceanHero is another search engine with a positive impact on the Earth. With each search, you help prevent plastic from ending up in the seas and oceans.

The sea is for sea life, not plastic bottles

I’ve used both of these websites and they work just as well as Google. Try them out and see what you think 😊

Eco-Friday: some good news for the Earth

With all the pollution and global warming happening, it’s easy to loose hope and think that there is no point in fighting for the Earth anymore. But activism does give results if you don’t give up, as has been shown time and time again throughout history. On Wednesday, a historic climate victory happened in the Netherlands when a court ordered the oil company Shell to reduce their carbon emissions by 45% by 2030. This happened after an activist group sued the company and won. Experts believe this legal victory could be set as a precedent for similar lawsuits, which could further motivate oil companies to reduce emissions.

Another great piece of news is that the G7 countries have agreed to stop financing the coal industry before the end of the year. This will hopefully motivate other great economies of the world’s to do the same and instead invest in green energy technologies.

Eco-Friday: How to make chicken out of tofu

One of the best and easiest ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint is to eat more plants and less animal products, preferably switching to an entirely plant-based diet. The task can seem daunting at first. Most of us grew up with plenty of meat, eggs and dairy and we’re also used to cooking with these ingredients. But there are so many cool and useful plant-based recipes to learn and try out. The learning experience can actually be quite fun.

Today I’d like to share one of my absolute favourite kitchen hacks: turning tofu into a tasty mock-meat with the texture of chicken.

First thing you’ll need is of course tofu. You can make your own or use store-bought. Just make sure to press it properly. Once that’s done you need to freeze the tofu block overnight.

How tofu can look after freezing

The next day, take the tofu out and let it taw for a few hours. When it’s ready you can press all the water out and then start with the marinade. 

There are different one’s you can make. I’m using the one from this recipe.

Mix together:
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder

Rip the tofu block into small chunks (about 4-5 cm). Put in the bowl with the marinade and mix together until the sauce covers all the bits. Then add 0.6 dl (1/4 cup) of corn starch and another 1 tsp of smoked paprika. Mix again until everything is well incorporated.

Now spread all the ‘chicken’ chunks on a baking sheet and cook in 190 C° (375 Fahrenheit) for about 25 minutes.

Here’s the result:

Delicious on its own but it also goes well with some dip, in tacos, burritos or on pizza.

Bon appétit!

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