The Asatru Folk Assembly (Or AFA) has once again placed itself at the center of a controversy with a statement made via Facebook on August 21st.
There is, to my mind, something sacred in the gathering of the ripe fruit or grain, and when I have the opportunity to do so, I would be remiss in ignoring it. Harvesting is holy. The act of harvesting can bring us closer to our ancestors, to whom the harvest was a matter of life and death, and it can make us think about what we do to our environment. This world wasn’t made for us, as the Christians believe; rather, we were made for this world.
As a practicing Heathen, a key cornerstone of my spiritual practice is the offering of gifts. The Havamal (“The Sayings of Har”; ie, Odin in disguise, doling out practical wisdom on a number of topics) has a lot to say about gift giving and fostering reciprocal relationships. Though Odin focuses more on how to build relationships between humans, I think the same advice can be applied equally well to our relationships with the Gods.
I’ve recently come home from a heathen festival in the UK, the Asgardian. It was a fantastic experience and we had wonderful weather with barely a drop of rain – which I believe must be some sort of record for England. There were interesting lectures and workshops covering topics from an in depth analysis of the Wild Hunt phenomenon to magical music among finns, sami and norse peoples. There were vendors selling a lot of good stuff, a couple of food vendors with really good food, and a tavern that was well frequented.
Well, it’s harvest time. Today I was preserving some peaches I received from a local farmer, and it occurred to me that most people really aren’t in touch with their food. Oh sure, you go to the grocery store and buy stuff. Maybe you plant a small garden, if you have the space, but many people don’t. So, you buy your food from who knows where, and pray to Freyr that maybe he’ll accept your thanks.
Kids, we need to talk.
Last time we covered the Elder Runes, which are the ones most people learn first. This is primarily because they have enough characters with similar sounds to function as letters in modern English. The Younger Futhark runes were developed between 700-800 CE, right near the beginning of what we often call ‘The Viking Age’. The vast majority of rune stones, and inscribed ‘viking’ swords you’ll likely ever see are going to be written in this text. If you want to write Old Norse in runes, the Younger Futhark are what you would use!
A good way to start approaching the Gods is to make a shrine for the Gods, or for a specific God. An indoor shrine for a Heathen is called a stalli, and an outdoor one is called a vé. The shrine can be large or small but it should have an image of the God (or Gods) you wish to honor, and a place to leave offerings.