Demon Face

I've posted about the krampusse traditions before, but this is the first time I've seen them tied to Perchta rather than the Wild Hunt. It's nice to see a tradition like this that's still going strong.

Tourists or foreigners have to look twice when attending a Perchten festival in the western Austrian region of Tyrol. Some probably think there is something wrong with the countryfolk – dressing up like demons, wearing head to toe animal skins and wooden masks, behavior that could easily be associated with some kind of a devil’s cult. It just doesn’t seem to be normal.

(link) [Reuters]

via The Wild Hunt

11:36 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

An Imperfect God

I don't know whether to be delighted or infuriated. On the one hand, this is a thoughtful piece by a learned man which comes to what I would consider basically sound conclusions. On the other, the implicit monotheism hangs there like a bizarre pinata, waiting for me to take a swing.

I guess polytheists don't exist. Or at least aren't theists.

I wonder if the author recognizes the irony of his argument? The imperfect and sometimes capricious deity of his conclusion is very much in keeping with characterizations of the gods and goddesses in pagan mythological sources. Except there's more than one of them. Polytheists have understood this for quite a while.

Is God perfect? You often hear philosophers describe “theism” as the belief in a perfect being — a being whose attributes are said to include being all-powerful, all-knowing, immutable, perfectly good, perfectly simple, and necessarily existent (among others). And today, something like this view is common among lay people as well.

(link) [New York Times]

23:29 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Einherjar 2012

Today is the civic commemoration of the end of the First World War, also known as Veteran's Day. Over the years, heathenry has adopted this as the Feast of the Einherjar, honoring the soldiers and veterans among us. Ravenswood holds our feast this evening.

Meanwhile, up in Minnesota, Volkshof Kindred held their celebration last evening - and our daughter Hilary was in attendance! Her description was of a vibrant group of young families, children everywhere (including our youngest granddaughter) and moving and glowing tribute fit fot the occasion. It warms the cockles of our heathen hearts to see a young and growing kindred carrying on the work we started so many years ago - and even more to think that our progeny will be a part of this process. So Hail Volkshof, Hail Hilary and Hail the Einherjar!

12:24 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Winter Nights 2012

Tonight we name the Winter Nights and once more Ravenswood will gather here at the farm for the celebration. The weather doesn't look like it's going to cooperate, with thunderstorms in the forecast. But a grand time will be had by all nonetheless.

09:56 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Atheist Asatruar Redux

There's been a round (or two) of posting in the Pagan blogosphere lately concerning the intersections of philosophy, science, humanism and religion (specifically of the pagan or heathen variety). I ran into it first on The Wild Hunt, and then again at egreores, who has written a great deal on the subject over the years. Going back over MacRaven, it seems as though I, too, have written a good deal on the subject. So here's my list of links, a small contribution to the debate:

Interestingly enough, this topic seems to have generated more comments than any other, not to mention several dozen emails over the years asking for more private discussion of "secular humanist heathenry". And I'm still not sure that's what I'd call myself, though it does have a nice alliterative ring to it, kinda like "atheist Asatruar" ...

19:58 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Freyfaxi 2012

Today the Kindred of Ravenswood celebrates the Feast of Frey, marking the beginning of the harvest season. We're a bit late this year, but given that the drought has only recently broken it's strangely appropriate. So today we celebrate that breaking, the return of fruitfulness to the land, and our own persistence and discipline in holding on in hope of the Harvest.

12:04 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Researchers identify present day Turkey as origin of Indo-European languages

I have something of a background in linguistics, as well as a keen interest in Proto-Indo-European religion, and I'm a bit suspicious of this. There's more to language than words, after all - language carries cultural, social and religious context. Comparative religion and archeology both strongly support a more central Asian origin for the Indo-Europeans. I would suggest In Search of the Indo-Europeans for a thorough overview of what this article calls the "Steppe Hypothesis". I'll bet on that one as proving correct over the long haul.

By using novel methods developed for tracing the origins of virus outbreaks, researchers say they have identified present-day Turkey as the homeland of the Indo-European language family.

(link) [Washington Post]

20:07 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Aurora Over Raufarhöfn

I had no idea such a place existed, but if I ever get to Iceland ...

The Sun will not set at Arctic Henge during the summer solstice in late June, and at its highest point in the sky it will appear just above the aligned vertices of this modern monument. The above image was taken in late March during a beautiful auroral storm.

(link) [Astronomy Picture of the Day]

08:03 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Cow and woman found in Cambridgeshire Anglo-Saxon dig

Awesome find!

Archaeologists excavating an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in Cambridgeshire say the discovery of a woman buried with a cow is a "genuinely bizarre" find.

(link) [BBC]

17:25 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine dead at 95

It was this man's portrayal of Ragnar Lodbrok that really piqued my interest in things Norse when I was a kid, and started me on the path that ultimately led me to heathenry. Hail Ragnar! And hail Ragnar's beard!

Actor Ernest Borgnine, whose barrel-chested, bulldog looks made him a natural for tough-guy roles in films like "From Here to Eternity" but who won an Oscar for playing a sensitive loner in "Marty," died on Sunday at age 95, his publicist said.

(link) [Reuters]

22:10 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Experts Baffled by Mysterious Underground Chambers

Where does legend end and reality begin?

There are more than 700 curious tunnel networks in Bavaria, but their purpose remains a mystery. Were they built as graves for the souls of the dead, as ritual spaces or as hideaways from marauding bandits? Archeologists are now exploring the subterranean vaults to unravel their secrets.

(link) [Der Spiegel International]

15:06 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Hinduism spreads in Ghana, reaches Togo

Here's a lesson for us heathens:

"We have not achieved this through the winning of souls as other religions do, but have attracted people into the practice of Hinduism simply by the lives we lead," he [Kwesi Anamoah, national president of the African Hindu Temple] said, adding: "Our lives shine in the community to attract people."

From just two dozen people in the mid 1970s to 3,000 families now, Hinduism is spreading in Ghana and has also made its way into neighbouring Togo.

(link) [Times of India]

23:04 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Sam Brownback joins Rick Perry on stage

This is going into my Asatru category, although perhaps it belongs in Politics. Unfortunately, there are times when the two mix, and never more so than in contemporary America, where the "Religious Right" has taken on a new power role in government. Frankly some of these folks scare me.

One of their bugaboos is "creeping Sharia" (Islamic law). There's a lot of rumbles about this even from a pagan perspective. I think this concern is misplaced - the danger here is not Islamic law, but Christian law, not sharia, but good old fashioned American Puritanism, wrapped in a Dominonist American flag. There are very few instances of attempted Muslim domination of politics here - but there are more and more instances of events like this "Response". We pagans are allegedly what they're responding to - and while I'll acknowledge that "pagan" to one of these folks is just a name for anything they don't care for politically, as a very public "real deal" heathen it sure makes me feel like I have a target on my back.

Some pagan folks get it, but many more do not, especially those of a more conservative political bent (which means most heathens).

I only wish my religious fellow travelers, of whatever particular stripe, would wake up and smell the coffee. Events like this one scare me - I can only wonder what solution is proposed to deal with the "problem" of pagans in America, and if it's meant to be a final one.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback was the only one of Rick Perry's 49 colleagues to join him in Houston today, though Florida Gov. Rick Scott taped a message for "The Response."

(link) [Politico]

10:23 /Asatru | 2 comments | permanent link

Ragnarök: the doom of the gods

Interesting analysis - not heathen, to be sure, but certainly illustrative of the power of the Northern mythos that still resonates today.

Myth comes from muthos in Greek, something said, as opposed to something done. We think of myths as stories, although, as Heather O'Donoghue says in her book From Asgard to Valhalla, there are myths that are not essentially narratives at all. We think of them loosely as tales that explain, or embody, the origins of our world. Karen Armstrong writes in A Short History of Myths that myths are ways of making things comprehensible and meaningful in human terms (the sun as a chariot driven by a woman through the firmament) and that they are almost all "rooted in death and the fear of extinction".

(link) [The Guardian]

07:59 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

Icelandic town hopes angry elves have been soothed by songs

Old ways die hard, even after a thousand years...

It is hoped that elves and hidden people around the north-western Icelandic town of Bolungarvik will start to calm down again following their recent dangerous pranks and humans’ subsequent efforts to appease them.

(link) [ICE News]

08:41 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link