Norse Mythology – Hugin and Munin (Odin’s Ravens)

Happy Tyr’s Day!

Of course, the image of Odin is not complete without some references to some of the creatures and objects associated with him. The first I would like to highlight is Odin’s ravens Hugin and Munin. Thought and Memory, Reason and Experience, or whatever similar combinations you can give them.

The purpose of their existence for Odin is to search the earth and then report back to Odin what they see. Based on this Odin then sets his plans and his wonderings. For all practical purposes, they are Odin’s scouts.

Ravens were used by Vikings for a lot of things but one thing is for certain their behavior was watched and the Norse people and Vikings used them to tell certain things about what was going on around them. Raven could sense land and be often released from ships to be followed so the Vikings would know which way to go when they neared land.

Symbolically Hugin and Munin could be considered the scouts of the human mind. The idea for me is that if one uses Reason and Experience effectively, then one can see a clear path ahead in order to navigate to get what one wants. Pursuit of what you Need and Want requires good reconisance and that for the human being is performed by one’s mind through reason and filtering it all through experience.

Of course, you then need the drive to pursue what you need and want. But that is the subject for next week’s post on Norse Mythology.

I remain.

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher.  The Grey Wayfarer.

Skal!!!

“Offerings, Prayers and Altars” (Asatru – Part 20) – The Pagan Pulpit

Happy Sol’s Day!

Announcements:

We don’t pray here – we figure God, the gods, goddesses, or whatever powers that be (if any) either know already, don’t give a fuck, or are busy with more important matters than our petty stuff. We also kind of assume that they expect us to do stuff that we can do for ourselves and that we will do them ourselves and not be lazy. We also believe in being good friends, so we don’t presume on our friendship with the powers that be by asking them all the time for stuff while giving them nothing in return.

We also don’t take an offering here.  We figure the powers that be probably don’t need it.  Let’s be honest, offerings are not given to the divine powers, they are given to an organization to support it.  Just being honest. God, the gods or whatever never sees a dime, farthing or peso of that money; it all goes to the church, mosque or shrine.

Theme Song: “Asatru, Nordic Roots”

Mediation:

Text: 

See the source image

If you want more details about Asatru, I can’t recommend this book enough.

Sermon:

With the idea of the friendship of the gods more prominent than anything Asatru worship of the gods as far as its practical form follows suit. The offerings, prayers, and altars reflect this and I find this as a former Christian minister very fascinating.  Ritual is a part of religion and it has its purpose in being aspects of the relationship with the divine.  In Asatru what I see in their rituals is more of a fellowship and friendship emphasis with the gods being the guests of honor.

Offerings in the modern-day tend to be drink offerings (alcoholic) and already prepared and cooked food. In the old days, the slaughter of the animal, skinning, and cooking were a part of it.  But very few people today tend to know how to do this so buying food and preparing it is substituted. As with a lot of religions drink offerings are poured on the ground to symbolize the gods partaking. Food is offered up and then shared among the worshipers. Pagan offerings have a practical side and I wonder if the Christians realize that their potlucks and similar meal sharings have more in common with pagan worship of old than their own practice of communion.

Prayers are different.  Asatru argues that for the most part, a worshiper should pray standing upright to indicate one’s relationship with the gods is not subservient so much friendship. Other than that, the details are more about what places one in an attitude of prayer; so whatever works.  The prayers themselves, having read many of them, are more in line with most prayers I have heard starting with a Hail, followed by a recognition of the title of the god where they dwell and what they did with what weapon.  Then there is an asking for aid with a summarization of the problem.  In meditation in private, this takes the form of visitation fo the gods in their homes and engaging them in discussions that reflect the friendship nature of worship.

Altars provide the focus for this whether in homes or places of worship.  They tend to be in mantlepieces but any space dedicated to the task of prayer and meditation will do.  They also tend to be as individual as the people who use them reflecting their gods of choice. Statues, candles, banners, flowers in season, etc. can all be a part of an altar depending on the taste of the individual worshipper.  Public altars tend to be a little simpler and reflect the group as a whole.

As an atheist, I don’t worship anything, but I do find that my meditation space has an altar quality to it and probably I will create something to reflect this myself.  For me, of course, having a statue of Odin as the original Grey Wayfarer would be appropriate.  A banner depicting wolves and ravens, a candle for a meditation focus and perhaps a spear to reflect Odin’s weapon.  Runes would be prominent as well given Odin’s association with them. If I am going to meditate on the Nine Noble Virtues, I should have an appropriate setting.

Parting Thought:

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I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

Odin’s Eye – Religion Problems – Relics (St. Valentine’s Day Post)

Happy Thor’s Day

Discussion:

I am going a little out of order here and the original design of “Religion Problems” was to hit other religions besides Christianity. But it is St. Valentines Day, so I am drawn to the holiday because of what we do with it.  But in the area of religion, the subject of relics is an interesting one.

Even as a Christian I wrote about St. Valentines Day as being something of a weird holiday when you look at it rationally. I wrote a post on it back in 2013:

St. Valentine’s Day – Maybe I Should Get a Tattoo

From that post I quoted Wikipedia:

The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her.

The other thing is his relic:  A skull (said to be his)  with flowers that bloom from it.  I mean according to the church no one just puts these flowers on the relic, they just appear. The idea that this regular miracle builds faith in the Saints and in the faith they served is a pretty common theme in the use of such relics regardless of religion.

Time to Look Through the Eye:

Faith:

So the question of miracles comes up with relics. I mean the blooming flowers thing would be impressive, if it is true.  But notice something right away in the picture of this relic.  It is carefully preserved in a box and that box probably has a back door.  I wonder what that would be for? It would be too simple have someone reach in when no one is watching a replace the flowers from time to time. Having grown up in the Pentecostal church I have seen the height of sleight of hand to get people to believe and to me the most rational explanation for blooming flowers is not a miracle, but placement when people are looking the other way.  That is very easy for any illusionist. I saw people doing this all the time to ‘prime the pump’ of faith.  Sorry, this is a ‘miracle’ that may not be so miraculous.

Religion:

I also find it interesting that this use of relics is even present in the three major monotheistic religions. All of them have as a base the commandment about idolatry and no matter how you shake and dance, veneration of an object is idolatry.  In the case of relics,  this idea of a spiritual force infecting an object, is definitely on the idolatry side is given a pass. because it ‘builds faith’.

Theology:

Miracles in general are often attached to things in my opinion that really are not a miracle. The idea of genuine miracles being possible I do not dismiss, I just also have a very specific theological definition of miracle that is basically an act of the divine that does something both unusual and unnatural. Babies being born, beautiful sunsets, etc. are not miracles by that definition.  To prove such a thing would require actual rational observation. When you do this with most relics, you find the sleight of hand and illusion aspects every time.

Spirituality:

I guess from a personal spiritual point of view, I don’t really have a need to have relics prove faith or theology.  I engage both with my spiritual side but it is much more internal for me as a pagan.  Relics and ritual have always be a bugaboo for me because, I can see that they can be easily turned into something where people are psychologically manipulated. It can have absolutely nothing to do with real spiritual or divine power. Relics are a good example of that kind of manipulation, if you ask me.

Conclusion:

On a lighter note, I prefer the modern version of Valentine’s Day.  A day devoted to expressing love toward your significant other. A day where you remind each other how much you love each other.  In that respect I can give a nod to the holiday. But relics – no. Just no.

Continuing to Walk the Path,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

Crossing Bifrost – Norse Symbols and Objects – The Valknut

Happy Saturn’s Day and Happy Disting.  Let’s all remember those mothers and women who passed on before us, and the beginnings of spring in which there is new life even in the ice and snow.  

In looking at symbols of the Norse people this one seems to have a long origin and goes back to possibly the 9th century.  It is composed of three interlocking triangles. It can be found on gravestones and in archaeology in various places from the Viking Age.  The Norwegians introduced the idea of it meaning ‘knot of those fallen in battle’ long after the Viking age was over but it could be true.

What does it mean?  We don’t know really.  It is connected with the dead in Viking culture, because it appears on gravestones and viking funeral ships. Representations of Odin appear with it, so it is often thought to be connected with him. Mostly though we get the idea that this symbol for the Vikings was connected with death.

That hasn’t stopped modern people from running with it and giving it their own meanings.  Currently it is connected withe the revival of heathen practices among people with Norse and Germanic decent. It has come to symbolize other things in the modern mind.  But the one thing it seems to maintain is its association with the Vikings and their death rituals. Many theorize a connection with deep strong magic in the Viking culture associated with death.

For me and many others I think, the Valknut symbolizes the Nine Noble Virtues (NNV) the best.  It is basically three interlocking triangles, total of nine sides that form a single symbol.  Each triangle has come to mean one of the higher virtues for me and each side one of the NNV.  The whole thing stands together as one symbol representing my total philosophy.  In the end it makes a great meditation focus for me. I have also seen it used in conjunction with the nine worlds.

I am well aware of the fact that there is one white supremacist group that uses this as their symbol but I think they pervert it. It never had any connection to white supremacy until they used it this way, and I would say it is a common practice of race oriented groups of all kinds to take good and noble symbols and pervert them.  The most notorious one being the swastika which originally was a symbol of balance and harmony.  Hitler perverted it. Mostly though for the Valknut, I stand with a lot of other pagans in my defense of the symbol representing a heritage without racial hatred. It should be noted the symbol is used by many other non-racist organizations and companies. Including ones that actively stand against this racism.

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In the end the symbol has a lot of mystery and so it can be given a lot of meanings and perhaps that is its greatest strength. It allows the individual the freedom to think what they wish about it and give it the meaning that best works for them. For me it is a reminded of the virtues I place value on and try to practice.  So it remains a constant reminder to me of that and that, because of its connection with death, I should be remembered for the noble life I lived because of following the virtues to me it represents. I wear one on a necklace around my neck these days.  A reminder of the mysteries of following the NNV and walking as a pilgrim through life.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!