An ergi warrior. Contradiction of terms? Not possible? I say it is.
I’ve always known I was ergi. Gay. From my earliest memories of being the oddball in a rough and tumble familial and social setting I knew something was up. I was born and raised in a rural farm community of 650 people in 1965. I was never in the closet. Was out and gay from day one. It just never occurred to me to hide who I was. No one else around me did. Why should I?
I was always feminine.
My favorite fictional characters were always female. In my youth from Little Orphan Annie to Dorothy and Glinda (she did have the best costume after all!) in “The Wizard of Oz” I closely modeled myself after the heroine. Even though my favorite TV show was “Starsky and Hutch” it wasn’t because I wanted to be them. I just thought Starsky was dreamy. So all the signs were there early on.
But I was also always a warrior. Fighting back against those who picked on me. Which happened often. Slammed into lockers. Books hit out of my hands. Fighting back with my father. He figured he could bully the sissy out of me. Of course not so. I figured out that the only way to survive and flourish in this atmosphere was to stand up for myself.
When I was 13 I was expelled from the Lutheran church in my hometown. They said I was gay and had no right being there. This was a crushing blow for me. I was very active in the church. I taught Sunday School. I sang solos at special services. I played the organ. The church was a well integrated part of my life. But if God was going to turn His back on me I would fight back. I turned to alternative religions to fill the spiritual void.
I spent years searching for a spiritual home. I devoured self help books and New Age philosophies. I was Wiccan for a while. None of it seemed to work for me. It was years of being adrift. I had no inkling where to turn.
I had decided to find out what my ancestors did spiritually before the tide of Christianity took over them. As my ancestors as far back as we could trace them (the 1500s) were German I knew that there was going to be my answer. And that meant the old olds of the North. This lead me to a fascination with the gods of that time and place. I read everything I could about Odin and Thor and the like. I was entranced. No one could have told me back when I was 13 that I would find such a rich and diverse history of beliefs. I felt at home.
Ultimately my adulthood searching lead me to my exposure to Asatru. Here was a religion celebrating all the gods I had come to know. It had ritual and clergy. Soon enough I had joined an international Asatru group and called myself an Asatruar.
I was drawn to the Esoteric side of Asatru. I began my Runic studies in my mid20s. But soon I felt unbalanced. There was so much talk of the warrior side of life in Asatru. The Esoteric offered a way for me to combat all this overly overt testosterone. I learned about Odin and his studying seidr with Freyja. Not a very manly practice. Most seidr workers were women after all. And then of course reading in the Edda about Loki using the term ergi to hurl as an insult at Odin. I looked ergi up. Feminine male. Me. But Odin was nonplussed by the insult. After all he was a warrior god. If he also had an ergi side of his complex personality so be it. Odin knew that to continue his never ending search for wisdom it would be necessary to explore that part of his psyche. He was an ergi warrior. I figured so was I.
There are times today more than 25 years later I’ll be in some discussion in a Facebook group where someone will throw the term ergi at me. And I’m fine with it. I know I’m a warrior as well.
My husband of 30 years and I have been ergi warriors together. Back in 1993 we marched on Washington DC for the rights of same sex marriages. In 2000 we adopted our daughter in suburban Chicago. Many was the time of a parent teacher conference I had to don my warrior garb. It’s been a life of struggle and fights. But I’ve held my own over the years.
Eight years ago I was diagnosed with MS. This began a new round of battles. The daily fight against my body decaying. Losing and then gaining back functionality. The onslaught of medication and physical therapy. I have fought and won many battles both large and small. It’s a battle I may ultimately succumb to. But fight I will.
I have been a Vitki for 25 years. Over a year ago I achieved my goal of being ordained as a Gothi. My life is spiritually full. Nothing in my life is untouched by the gods. Ergi or not I have been chosen for this path.
What does this mean for me today? How do I live a life as an ergi warrior? I explore both sides of myself. The masculine runes and the feminine seidr. The fighter and the healer. I know that may be a gross oversimplification but it’s how I view it. It takes work on both sides to keep me balanced. I admit I struggle sometimes with this balance. But I at least keep struggling.
So these days I’m a warrior in my daily battle with MS. And naturally my ergi flag is always flying. I’m not afraid to be ergi. Or a warrior. I am happily both. So let Loki hurl insults. It’s simply who I am. I follow the example of Odin. I’m an ergi warrior!
Kurt Hoogstraat is a full-time Vitki and Heathen author based in Northern Illinois. He has been studying the runes and other Old Norse esoterica for over twenty years. A member of the Troth and an inclusive Heathen, Kurt has written two books:“Vitki Musings “ and “On Contemporary Seidr”, both available on Amazon.com He blogs at https://vitkimusings.blog/ and creates instructional Heathen videos at his self-titled YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCafJleASW-7ZJyQcqQBU0AA.