Oath Day

Firstly, Happy New Year to all. Hopefully you’re Yule was as festive and fulfilling add my own.

As an ending to the Yule celebrations we hold Oath Day on January 1st. It is a very special day to us.

The old ways of seeing oaths on the new years became making resolutions, an oath or promise that one makes to oneself, usually to better themselves,but it’s a joke really. As soon as the promise is sworn, bets are made as to how long these resolutions will last. Normally it is believed they won’t last the day, even just a few hours I’d the believed upon time.

It’s just a joke, not too be taken lightly. Not so with my kin. We have taken up the old mantle and swear paths to each other, and to ourselves. These oaths are written down, signed and sealed, a copy is gifted to the gods. These oaths are taken very seriously. On New Years Eve the oaths from the last year are revisited, and reflected upon. We are taken to task and held accountable for broken oaths. Each of us tries to not make a mockery of such a sacred thing. 

If promised we make to ourselves are just jokes, not till be taken seriously,then how can we be taken seriously? How can we respect ourselves?

Happy Oath Day.

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To Honor and Remember

November 11, at 11:00 am. The eleventh month of the eleventh year on the eleventh hour has always been very sacred with me. When I was a child my Mom would take us down to the cenotaph at Old City Hall here in Toronto, we’d go down to look at the veterans, to put a face on what the day meant. We’d go down and we’d stand there, no fidgeting allowed while we gave a moment of silence. We’d listen to the words, we’d see the tears in the eyes of these men and know that while we could not yet grasp what war was and what it meant, we did see in their eyes that the price was costly, and we knew that this day had to be respected and they had to be honored.
Then the government decided that the day should no longer be a holiday, and our lessons about the importance of Remembrance Day was left to teachers, most of whom had never stared into those sad eyes and felt the weight that those men carry. They lessons they taught were vapid, there was never anything in them about respect or honor. It became about the production, the ceremony that would be performed in the schools gymnasium. What songs will we sing, what words will we speak. I felt that it was more for the pat on the back the organizing teacher would receive instead of teaching the students about the importance of the day. Fidgeting was allowed, and I was disgusted. Even at that young age, I knew that this wasn’t right.
Now I fast forward to my own children, their lessons about Remembrance Day at the hands of the school board have been pitiful. There are videos that they can get from the War Museum, video testimony or witness history of what those men and women went through. In the words of the veterans, spoken in their own voices are available to the classrooms. But my children only know that on Remembrance Day you sing songs of peace and stand for a minute.
Actually that’s not true. My children know the importance of this day. My husband and I have taught them on our own, we’ve tried our hardest to instill in them the knowledge that have, that November 11th is a day that does not belong to those songs, or to a desire for a minute to fly by faster than any other minute in history. It belongs to men and women that marched off to do what most people can’t even imagine. No matter why there were there, they were there. They deserve our respect and we have to remember that they deserve to be honored.

My maternal grand fathers both served in World War 1. Both fought at Vimy Ridge, one dying there from a shell. The other was wounded, returning home only to die from those wounds almost a year or so later.
My husbands family were in Britain during the Blitz of World War 2. All of his uncles and aunts served, either going to war or fighting to protect Britain from the bombs.

On November 11th I will not be performing a blot. Too much blood has been spilled for war, so instead I will be performing a faining, giving offerings to the einherjar, the battle dead, to honor them for their sacrifice. I will be having a hussel, a feast to honor all who served in the military, both dead and alive.
This is a day that everyone should come together and respect that without the sacrifice that was made by these warriors, we might have very different lives, we may not have the rights that we do and for their sacrifice I will be eternally thankful and come the 11th hour I will cry tears for the lives lost, the futures sacrificed, and I will honor all that were and could have been.

The Hunt is Here

I stepped out into the backyard tonight, it was just after 1:00am, I was about to go to bed and I was letting the dogs have one last chance in the yard, to burn off steam or relieve themselves, whatever they felt was necessary.

As I stood on the back deck, watching my dogs run and amuse themselves I slowly became aware of the wind in the trees. It was different from how it’s been the past few weeks. Even differing from the nasty wind storm we had a couple of days ago. While it wasn’t a terrible, hard blowing wind that might take down light posts, or tree limbs, as happened with the wind storm of a few days ago. Tonight there was a difference in the sound in the trees. A harshness, a threat of what’s to come.

That’s when I realized that we are just a week away from the 31st of October.
By this point in the year, I am rarely walking around in the yard at that time of night in bare feet, a tee shirt and shorts. Yet there I was, and not even a goosebumps to be seen on my flesh.
But, the warm weather we’ve been having has lulled me into this semi-stuppor and I just hadn’t realized that time was passing.
What I felt nearby tonight, the harshness, the warning, it could only have been one thing. The Wild Hunt is upon us.
I was surprised when I realized it, as I said I’d been lulled into a false sense of summer lasting long, and forgetting what was about to come. But tonight brought it home for me.
What was really funny was that my dogs were super hyper and a bit on the wild side while we were out there.
Even when we came in, it took them a few minutes to calm back down. While that might be a little on the odd side for the younger 2, the old man never gets worked up. He walks outside, does what he has to do and then walks back inside. He doesn’t play, bark or get worked up about anything.
And yet tonight he ran, he barked and was definitely worked up.

Freyfaxi 2017

My plans for Freyfaxi had to be quickly adjusted this year. An entire change of plan had to be adapted and changed up because the weather just wasn’t cooperating.
The original plan was to head out into the wild Northlands and camp on some Crown Land, where I would be able to have a nice fest and give thanks to the Vanir and the Wights for a good early harvest this year. There has been so much rain, and while a lot of the grounds flooded earlier this year, everything seems to be growing fast and we’ve got a lot of good foods.
But, the reason for the change was the exact same reason that the harvest is providing so much food this year. The rain.

Where we were heading had heavy downpours, it could be easily described as torrential rains, couple that with strong winds and tornado warnings and we decided that to be safe we’d stay in the city this weekend. Which turned out to be a pretty good idea, as photos I’ve seen from others camping in that area have the campsites flooded in a water, up to the ankles easily.
And I know that it’s kind of bad that we just gave up easily, if the gods were testing us with this weather, it’s a test that we failed. But with family and little ones, there just is not any way that this would have been a good weekend for anyone.

So the potato salad that I’ve made will be eaten and given as an offering this weekend, and we’ll plan a great fest for next weekend, with fresh homemade bread, fire roasted pork and more potato salad with a delicious dessert of cake topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
Words of thanks will be said, the gods will be praised in song and poem, and each of us will have our turn to show the gods and wights our gratitude and offer our thanks to them.

Hopefully they’ll be understanding about the delay.

Koselig: How to Defeat the Winter Blues

koselig

The Norwegians have a word to discuss the comfort one seeks in the cold, dark winter months, koselig. It roughly translates to coziness, the kind one seeks out in the Christmas season without all the stress.  Achieving this sense of coziness can be as simple as enjoying the company of friends and family, sharing a warm beverage by a roaring fire, reading a good book under a soft fuzzy blanket by the fireside. Candlelight  is a wonderful way to convey this sense of koselig.

Getting outside, enjoying the fresh, crisp air and the sun, when it’s there is a mood booster, so get outside, no matter what the weather brings and you’ll feel better. I’ve been told that there is a saying in Norway, ‘There is no bad weather, only bad clothes’.  I am a firm believer of this. If you are wearing outer clothing that suits the weather of the day, then you will be more comfortable. This could result in more than one article of outer clothing being needed for a single season. But during a season that can vary in temperature from -20 C to 5 C, snow, sleet, sunshine, wind, calm and blizzards, all of them require different types of gear. If a person is prepared for these types of weather, they should be comfortable, no matter what Mother Nature throws at them.
If you under dress for the weather, misery will be your companion.

Norwegians live in a land where the sun doesn’t really come up much higher than the horizon, so they live with soft, indirect light and sunset and sunrise last for ever. During the nights there are the Northern lights, which are breath-taking. All of these things make for a beautiful atmosphere, but if a person looks for the beauty in their day-to-day lives, marvel in a falling snowflake or a tree covered in ice or a cedar covered in a dusting of snow, the beauty will fill one with a sense of wonder and of course happiness.

The winter months are long and hard, it’s easy to survive through them, but to have a good life, surviving isn’t enough. You need to find the way to enjoy your days and nights, to enjoy winter. In Norway the restaurants and houses have fireplaces and candles lit to promote that cheerful, comfortable feeling of warmth and coziness, and here in the Great White North we all tend to bond by commiserating over the misery of the winter. We long to ‘get away’ to warmer climates, even if for a short period of time. We long for sun and warmth and the end of the snow. This mindset leads us into a negative spiral, they say how miserable they are and you respond that you are just as miserable, if not more. You dwell upon the negative instead of enjoying the blue skies when they peek out from the grey clouds. Enjoy the post card scenes of a winter wonderland.
If we reboot our brains to stop thinking of suffering through the winter but instead glory in the weather, our minds will climb out of that negativity trap and begin to be positive.

I am so guilty of this negative way of thinking about winter, and I hated it. I never dressed for the weather but dressed for fashion. Hats would mess up my hair, gloves were chosen for their beauty instead of their functionality. Lined boots were worn only if I couldn’t wear my fashionable non-lined boots.
I walked around frozen and engulfed in a bubble of misery. Whose fault was it? Mine.
I hated the snow, it was a nuisance that was only good for shoveling and stealing time from my day and causing discomfort when I had to clear it. Icy roads and sidewalks were just things that made me fall.
I spent all my time during the winter longing for a plane to take me to some tropical destination where I could sit on a sandy beach, sipping fruity drinks and basking in the warm sun.

Then a few years ago I sat down and had a severe talk with myself. I’m not going to be able to run away from winter. It comes to Canada in October or November and it lasts until March or April. If you’ve got the cash to afford a week in a tropical paradise that gives you a week away from the cold and snow, but otherwise Winter was here to stay, so better to learn to love it than to waste the time and energy wishing for something that would never come, a winter-less winter.
That winter was one of the coldest that we experienced in decades, and I dressed for the weather. Warm, water-repellent jackets, hats, mitts, scarves and lined boots were what I bought for the winter months. Sure I looked for cute ones, I’m trying to be sensible, not hideous.
That winter I stopped being miserable. Others ran around, crying about the weather and i just shrugged and tried to always find a positive point about the day. I enjoyed myself more. Now, I no longer dread the coming winter so much.
Now, last year I was sitting back at this time of year, waiting out the first coming of winter. I was not waiting with glee, but with calm indifferent acceptance.
The same can not be said about this year. I’m looking forward to playing in the snow with my dogs, snowball fights with my husband and adult children, skating on a cold winter evening that ends with a full mug of hot chocolate, marshmallows and whip cream.
I haven’t awaited a winter with this much enthusiasm since I was a child, and my heart is full of warmth and interestingly enough, excitement for spending these upcoming day of snow and cold with friends and family.

Soliciting for Funds instead of Engaging Others

I have not been an active online Heathen, and I make no apologies.
Firstly I have been dealing with some health issues and also a change in my family dynamic has occurred, but to be honest, those things wouldn’t have made me keep my distance from online Heathenry. So, I had to ask myself, what really happened to make me turn away from the online community and turn more inwards and towards my family?

I have only been a Heathen for a few years, so I am still learning, a lot. As a Heathen with very limited financial resources, I turned to the online community to assist with my education, in the form of recommending the best ways to invest my money and discussing the particulars of our faith and how we approach it.
At first I found a lot of male dominated, chest thumping, going to Valhalla, keyboard warrior types. This approach to Asatru kind of put me off, but I pushed on, convinced that I had finally, after 40 years, found the path for me. My struggle in trying to find a religious path that fit was over. I knew that this path was going to be hard, nothing worth having comes easy.

Throughout my time online I came across some various groups, some were a good fit, others were a little soft and mushy around the edges, others had too much of a Christian element to it. The worst were the groups that sent out regular pleas for money, telling me that they can help me learn the ins and outs of Heathenry in their online courses, I just have to pay them a crap load of money.
Which I get, they want some kind of recompense for their effort and time they invested in putting their lessons together, but then I heard through the grapevine that these groups don’t actually deliver on their promise to educate. Instead it’s just some more keyboard warrior types planning on their afterlife in Valhalla, or some fluffy sort of touchy feely kind of emo type Asatru that they pieced together from their own divine experiences.
So, I began to avoid those groups, disappointed that I hadn’t been able to find a place online that felt like a fit.

And then about a year ago I discovered this group on Facebook and it felt like a good fit. They had these great conversations about the sagas and the lessons that we can take from them and how to try to incorporate those values into our modern lives instead of trying to force outdated concepts from history into a modern world. I was comfortable with this group that shall remain nameless, why?
Because just around Christmas the dynamic of the group changed. Suddenly they switched from spreading the word of Asatru and trying to engage Asatruar in these inspiring conversations, they became a charity, trying to raise funds. They never say what the funds are being used for. They have grandiose plans for the future, to build a hof and such, but they never say in the meantime what the money is actually going towards. They are selling merchandise now and each post always seems to scream ‘buy this’ or donate to us.
I can’t remember the last time they introduced a conversation that didn’t involve them having their hands out in search of some form of cash grab.

At first I thought it was a new thing and that after a while they’d be less about selling their merchandise and begging for donations and return back to the conversations that drew me to them in the first place, but no. Four months later and the closest I got to a conversation about lore was a baited topic that was slanted towards gender bashing. It broke out in child like arguments over whether boys were better than girls or vice versa. Disappointing indeed!

So, I’ve decided that it’s time to leave the group that shall remain nameless because I don’t want to turn this into a debate over whether this group has become all about the money or whether I’m just being unfair. There are others that are part of the group and they are happy, and I don’t want to draw away from that.
But  I am going to return to my own path, and forge forward. I’ll return to my theories and interpretations and if anyone wishes to discuss it with me, great. I look forward to engaging minds and exchanging of opinions and belief structures with other Asatruar again

Speaking to the Gods of Winter and Snow

I went outside tonight in my shorts, short sleeves, no sweater or shoes and I stood on my deck with my face turned up to the night sky and I spoke to Hodr, Ullr, Skadi and SnærI thanked them for this wonderfully mild winter that we’ve had, I’m so grateful, I never wanted them to think that I wasn’t. But I did tell them that I was worried about the farmers.
The ground in the spring needs to be saturated with the winters thaw, the ground so soaked that when walking across a field your foot sinks deep into the mud and when you lift it back up again the footprint left behind floods with water.
But we have had very little snow, and this means that come the spring the ground will not be saturated and I fear that it might hinder the growing season.

I worry for the farmers. I worry that we won’t have a good growing season and the prices for food will be driven higher than they are even now. There are only a few gods that can rectify this, and I hope that they will finally step up and show the world that they aren’t asleep and that winter will finally become all that it is supposed to be.

Offerings were left, and I returned inside to write this and go to bed.