Hel is frequently presented as a dreary, gray realm; ruled by an unforgiving goddess of the same name. A cold and thankless land for those who die of old age or illness. There’s even a pit where the vilest souls who enter that domain are kept. Firmly undesirable real estate, to say the least! There’s just one problem. There is only ONE source for this narrative, and it conflicts with just about every other source we have….
I work in a quasi-military environment, with teens from the ages of 16-18. The difference in the provisions provided for the Christian students and the non-Christian students is one of guidance. The Christian students can, of course, go to the local churches. The students practicing Native American or pagan religions are kind of left to ‘minister’ to themselves. They don’t have the guidance and support of an adult in their religious services, which can lead to them feeling a little lost. My role may be legally restricted when it comes to religion, but I’ve still learned quite a lot over the years about talking to and teaching teenage Heathens.
The old gods are multiplicitous in nature. For nearly every way of being human (or non-human), there is a god who embodies that way of being in their sacred image. How differently would we treat those unlike ourselves if our predominant cultures had so many more gods to relate them to, instead of one unattainable deity to judge them against? I see Polytheism as offering the solution to a desire I think many people hold but may not have a name for: to see ourselves in our gods.
The concept of a fylgja can be a hard one for modern minds to really grasp. An entity that has its own district shape and personality and yet is inextricably woven into an individual or family’s soul? To get a better idea, let’s take a look at some of the ancient stories in the Lore as well as some modern examples that touch on something remarkably similar to this Old Norse concept.
As a farmer, it is understood that if I tend these animals and gardens I’ll gain a means to sustain myself in return. They take care of me as I take care of them. A gifting cycle of sorts. I keep this tradition alive and take time on a regular basis to be grateful for this land that feeds me and mine and the line of ancestors that got me to this place.
In this day and age, it is incredibly easy to go online and find resources. It is actually amazing that so many of us have small devices in our pockets that allow us to look up virtually anything. Of course, this “virtually anything” includes a lot of opinions, especially when you’re researching a religious topic.
As a Heathen, I view public ritual through the lens of hospitality. Knowing how to act in the most respectful way in any situation was (and is) the key to avoiding many unnecessary disagreements in communities, especially our community.
American Gods just aired its sixth episode, “A Murder of Gods.” With that many episodes in the wild, we’ve got enough material to put it through its Pagan/Polytheist/Heathen paces. This review isn’t necessarily a breakdown of what the show is about or who you can find lurking within; there are dozens of those reviews out there. I’m here to tell you it’s one of the most Pagan shows on TV, and you should absolutely be watching.
As a follow-up to our“Offerings for the Gods” article series (Offerings for the Aesir, Vanir, and Jotnar), several of our readers have asked how to make these offerings. There’s no one right way to make offerings, though some ways are more efficient. Here are some of the most common ways of making offerings for the Gods. The key thing to remember with all offerings is to make them with intent and respect.