Friday, April 25, 2008

Newbies, Christians and Heathenry

When I was a newbie to all this non-Christian lark - back in the early/mid-nineties, I used to search for any and every bit of 'proof' that Christianity was wrong and that I'd picked the right path.

I used to care what Christians thought of me and yet went around spelling the word Christian with an 'x' in a very childish attempt to show my disdain for them. Then again, at that point the word 'magic' had umpteen number of spellings and everyone's online name either included the name of a deity or the word 'Lady' or 'Lord'.

Over the years, I came to care less and less about what Christians thought of me and as the polytheistic mindset really sunk in - I was no longer threatened by the existence of the God of Abraham whereas previously I tried to find ways to prove that everyone was deluded and that he wasn't real. I developed a taste for Catholic art and at one point even considered getting a tattoo of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. I was a languages major and through my studies of Spanish and consequently Latin American culture, I grew to love the aesthetic. One Pagan housemate was shocked and disgusted. She hated my tacky plastic pictures of the Virgin Mary, she hated my Fatima pin that I used to wear on my punky jacket with the pink flames on and she definitely hated the Virgin of Guadalupe patch that I had stitched to my excessively baggy jeans for a while.

'Why the fuck do you wear/have that shit if you're a Heathen?'

'Because it's fucking cool and it's not like it means anything to me. I just like the way it looks'

She was rather new to it all and very anti-Christian and I think that is something that we all go through in the process of conversion.

People seem to think that conversion is just a matter of a ritual or just deciding but it's not. It takes years and years for that change to happen - especially if you were raised in a religious family.

My family aren't particularly. They'll show up at church for 'hatches, matches and dispatches' but other than that - they don't really see the point of churches. My father has quite a recent habit of changing his religion(one day he's announcing he's a spiritualist, the next a shaman and the next a traditional Christian!). My mother just thinks that it doesn't really matter what anyone is as long as they're good people although I would say my mother is a bit of a Pagan type but doesn't really know it yet. And my say he's completely unreligious is a bit of an understatement. Gideon bible?? Smoked it.

Yet in spite of growing up in a family that thought it was funny that they buried the last pope in a dress with shoes that didn't quite match - it was still a bit of a process to get to where I am now because I read a fair chunk of the bible, I went to church for a while (less than a year - stuck to that one, didn't I?! LOL). And really, we underestimate all the Christian stuff that exists in our society and ideas regardless of your upbringing. For example - I opted out of the Religious Education course at school but they still made us do modules entitled 'Caring, a Christian perspective' and 'Marriage,a Christian perspective' and sent us to do community service activities for good measure.

My first community service activity involved having to pull cancerous skin from a senile old lady's leg before covering it with cream.


Anyway, back to the point. It takes years for you to change and part of making that change is being rabidly anti-Christian - guess it's the only way of dealing with the cognitive dissonance. But eventually the change comes when none of it matters anymore and you go into a church service and haven't got a clue what's going on, hungover and wishing the fucker that keeps ringing the bell would fuck off. You find yourself having to have Christian concepts explained to you and you might as well be having Hinduism explained because it's just that foreign to you. Bible stories end up being 'fucked up' but highly entertaining costume dramas and you figure you might as well take the local Christians that are offering freebies for everything you can get.

There is so much Christian baggage in modern Heathenry - not that it's not to be expected or anything. But I think give it a few years, let the first generation of children born to Heathen parents come through, let folks come to terms with the conversion process or even admit that there is a process to get over it.

It's only when Heathens stop giving a shit about how they're seen or about what they're doing and how it relates to every other bugger that we'll start to become credible.

Er...yeah...not really a point to any of that but nevermind.

It's my blog and I'll post if I want to :P

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Once a lady walked the heath
The fallen dead to find
And as the mists curled round
She sang a lullaby

The dead, they heard
That beauteous song
And gathered all around
And as she sang
The dead came out
Entranced by the sound

The more she sang
The more the mist
It grew all around
The more she sang
The colder it got
Frost forming on the ground

The dead they liked her oh so much
Decided then and there
That they would steal her clean away
From this middle earth

Now the lady is with the dead
Singing her lullaby
Trapped deep in a mound
Forced to sing
That cursed lullaby.

Let this be a lesson for all you here
Be careful what you sing
For even a children's lullaby
Can be a harmful thing.

Cat Houghton, April 22nd 2008

This was something that sort of came to me this morning before class....maybe my subconscious telling me not to make anything I write too good? *snigger*

I even got a tune with it but luckily no reality/dead calling effects that I can ascertain as of yet.

P.S This is not my Vardlokur chant....

On Writing Vardlokur

This my fiends is going to be one of those dirty, UPG and woo-filled posts.

I'm leaving Korea in about three weeks and I'll be going back to Europe. A place where I can interact with the landvaettir and where they don't so much mind me doing crazy Seidhr type stuff. Being here in Korea has been so restrictive. The land spirits are just not used to immigration yet and aren't very accepting of other cultures and peoples. From the get-go, it became very apparent to me that practising any kind of Seidhr was a no-no. This isn't my turf, I am foreign and no matter how much I come to understand the lore of this place, what I might encounter and what I might do in order to placate the things I might encounter - that still doesn't mean that they would accept that placation.

The impending move back to Europe, to land and spirits that aren't completely alien to me must be having an effect and I'm being rather seriously nudged to take a slightly different path and to do a form of oracular Seidhr ritual.

Most people have only ever heard of the oracular Seidhr ritual in conjunction with the Hrafnar group and like the Hrafnar group, I'm looking at Eirik's Saga Rauda for my recon clues.

However I differ from Hrafnar on one rather key point. I don't believe that the Vardlokur are sung with the intention of singing the Seidkona or anyone else on a journey. I believe they are songs for enticing in the spirits. For pulling/enticing them in.

Why do I think this?

In the past I have come across songs which, when played alter reality, they facilitate that 'shift' between normalcy and that state in which the dead come through. Certain combinations of notes, certain 'feels' of music.

I know from personal experience that it is possible to 'pull' them in however I would much prefer that they come willingly.

There is also this section from Eirikssagaraudr:

But on the morrow, in the latter part of the day, she was fitted out with the apparatus she needed to perform her spells. She asked too to procure her such women as knew the lore which was necessary for performing the spell, and bore the name Varblokur, Spirit-locks. But no such women were to be found, so there was a search made right through the house to find whether anyone was versed in these matters.'I am unversed in magic,' was Gudrid's reply, 'neither am I a prophetess, yet Halldis my foster-mother taught me in Iceland the lore which she called Varblokur.' 'Then you are wiser than I dared hope,' said Thorbjorg. 'But this is a kind of lore and proceeding I feel I cannot assist in,' said Gudrid, 'for I am a Christian woman.' 'Yet it might happen,' said Thorbjorg, 'that you could prove helpful to people in this affair, and still be no worse a woman than before. Still, I leave it to Thorkel to procure me the things I need here.'Thorkel now pressed Gudrid hard, till she said she would do as he wished. The women now formed a circle all round, while Thorbjorg took her seat up on the spell-platform. Gudrid recited the chant so beautifully and well that no one present could say he had ever heard the chant recited by a lovelier voice. The seeress thanked her for the chant, saying that she had attracted many spirits there who thought it lovely to lend ear to the chant-- spirits 'who before wished to hold aloof from us, and pay us no heed. And now many things stand revealed to me which earlier were hidden from me as from others.

As you can see for yourself in the above excerpt from Chapter 4 of the aforementioned saga - Thorbjorg categorically states that the chant had attracted many spirits.

Unfortunately we don't know exactly what Gudrid chanted/sung and so logically, the would be practitioner of oracular Seidhr is left with two choices.

a. Give up and forget the idea
b. Use the information that can be deduced as to the nature of the chant in order to write a new one that can be used.

From the above excerpt, we can easily surmise that the Vardlokur had several characteristics.

* It had a rhythm to it. All chants have a rhythm.
* For a chant to be a successful and memorable chant, it had to be quite short and have repetition. This can still be seen in most chants from folklore. Another possible aspect of such a chant could be 'counting' as can be seen in chants such as the 'Magpie chant' (one for sorrow, two for joy etc etc).

From these two facts we can possibly also surmise that the Vardlokur is something that is at once hypnotic and yet builds into something a little more ecstatic.

Another thing to take into account is that some children's chants have a tune to them. From personal experience I know that certain tones and rhythms have different effects and that some indeed attract the dead.

One interesting angle that I have considered in writing new Vardlokur comes from a couple of things that the Viking Answer Lady says in her essay 'Women and Magic in the Sagas:Seidhr and Spae' (

Where a Saami or Siberian shaman would rely upon the beat of a drum to achieve the ecstatic trance, the völva requires a special type of chant, the Varðlokur. No words have been preserved of this chant, but since the Varðlokur had been used by Guðríðr's foster-mother as a lullaby, it seems likely that the chant was repetitive and soothing in character.

and also her references to the law codes in Anglo-Saxon England that suggest that Spae-craft was not necessarily a dead art during and after the conversion period:

The spae-wife is not absent in Saxon England, either, for a Christian penitential states:
Si qua mulier divinationes vel incantationes diabolicas fecerit, I annum poeniteat, vel 3 XLmas, XL dies, juxta qualitem culpae poenitentis.
"If a woman makes prophecies and incantations by diabolic means, she is punished for one year, or 40 masses, 40 days, with the punishment being proportional to the guilt" (Crawford, 107).

Could it be possible that somewhere, floating around there is an early folk song/ballad/chant that holds remnants of an Anglo-Saxon variant of the Vardlokur? In the same way that some Heathen lore was preserved for the Christian audience by Grimm's fairy tales, could it be possible that there is knocking around out there, a really old folk song that in some way preserves parts of the Vardlokur or derived from it? Although I am unsure as to where the Viking Answer Lady comes up with the 'lullaby' link (I can only think it was something expressed in the untranslated text as opposed to the translation that she herself gives on the site), if it is the kind of song that could have been used as a lullaby, it may have been quite an innocuous chant of the kind that can still be spotted in English folk chants to this day.

Chants along the lines of

'Jenny Wren fell sick upon a merry time,
In came robin redbreast and fed her cakes and wine'

seem innocuous though they contain fragments of folk belief that, although not ancient, refer to a form of Pagan belief.

So I have been searching not only for possible chants/folk songs/ballads that could have been referencing enticing the dead (even in an abstract manner) but chants/folk songs or ballads that could possibly (either from their tunes or subject matter) be used in such a way. There is a power in tradition and it would be good to use it.

So far I have come up with nothing except a great liking for a folk song called 'Three Ravens' - but being an Odinic type, what do you expect ;)

I do have a form of chant/song that needs refining and that I think could do the job but I'll have to try it out properly when I get back to England so all is not lost if my dreams of finding something older don't come through ;)

The saga continues....

Thursday, April 17, 2008

To Join Or Not To Join...

That be the question.

You see, I'm a bit of a walking contradiction because on the one hand I want to be involved in the wider community and do something of service to the Heathen community- I've sort of considered joining some kind of org and doing some kind of clergy training - I mean, around ten years experience as a Heatheny type person has to count for something, right? And I do know that the training in itself does not a gythja make - acceptance by your community in that role does.

However on the other hand, I make enemies faster than Don Giovanni due to my inability to be subtle...I'm as subtle as an airraid. I also kind of enjoy taking the piss out of some members of the Heathen community. If it makes folks feel better, I do it to members of the Pagan community too. Well, it's not my fault if they dress up all funny and come out with daft shit! They're asking for it.

And you see, it's this complete lack of tolerance that keeps me in this quandary. As soon as I hear any shit, it's like these alarms go off in my head and before I know it, my gob is open and I'm giving out about whatever that person is talking about.


There's a reason why my friends gave me the nickname 'Human marmite'.

There is simply no middle ground with me. You either love me or hate me.

And I do try to be diplomatic. Mr Josh - my lovely man is a very diplomatic chappie but I have a lot of trouble with that. It's ok on the internet because I can take a step back, think about what I'm going to say and edit anything too inflammatory out of my posts. In real life it's different. I don't think I'll ever master face to face diplomacy and I just know that were I to join an org, something would happen - I wouldn't be able to sit there with a straight face/without making an outburst/without making enemies with well known people and it'd all go down the pan.

Oh hum.....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lancashire and Lancastrians

I come from a part of England called Lancashire which is made up of working-class mill towns, woodland, moorland and the occasional 'posh' place where the toffs live.

But to me, Lancashire means so much more.

I think of Lancashire and I think of vast seas of grassy, peaty moors. Windswept and desolate. Beautiful in their own way. I think of the way the land feels and the wights I know. Their places - the mounds, ruins and groves. I think of places that buzz beneath my feet, places where the air sometimes crackles with energy and that stay warm even when everywhere else is cold.

I think of the trees and what herbs grow where. I think of how close I feel to my Gods there. I think of Brigantia - the Goddess linked to the land itself and I think of the people that once walked buried in the hills.

People with whom I have little in common except the land. Ancient Britain or British bitsa, we both came from the same land. We both belong there. Those hills will never be foreign to me no matter how far or how long I travel.

In the 1700s, Lancashire was described as a 'wild and lawless county full of Catholics'.

But Lancashire is the reason why I'm a Heathen. I was lucky enough to grow up somewhere where the wights still live and that still has presence. Walking those hills I learned most of what I know now.

Well not just in walking those hills - growing up in my family too.

Put it simply - Lancashire is a place where people are often brutally honest. It's a trait I have too and even though the county has been at least nominally Christian for over a thousand years, old concepts still remain. The concepts of luck and familial luck - of gaining luck. The ideas about community and being prepared to go to the wall for your family and friends. After all - blood is thicker than water.

As children - we told stories about 'Granny Greenteeth' who drowns children that swim in her ponds, about 'hungry' rivers and moorland ghosts. We told stories about things that usually couldn't be seen but we knew to be there and without really thinking I found myself leaving offerings at certain places.

This post is my tribute to Lancashire - the land I really want to see. My land. Just for a little while at least before I go off to Germany.

Heathen men

I would like, if I may, to introduce you to a rather strange and varied species.

The species I am talking about is the Heathen male. There are many different types of Heathen male and as a longterm observer of the species, I have noticed several types emerge.

The Wannabe Viking

This first type is perhaps the most prolific and easiest to recognise. The Wannabe Viking is usually has the biggest Thor's hammer you've ever seen and then just in case you don't quite get it - a t-shirt - also with a huge Thor's hammer. The Wannabe Viking will talk tough...and very loudly. He probably doesn't realise that Vikings weren't the be all and end all of Viking age Scandinavian culture. He also probably doesn't think much about women - except in terms of 'loot' and 'booty' or even.. 'wench'. The more respectable among them may even think along the lines of 'Valkyrie' but only because of the serving drinks angle.

The Wannabe Viking can most often be found at Heathen events, mouthing off loudly, mead horn in hand and talking absolute bollocks. But long as he looks tough, what's the problem??

The Theodish King

The Theodish 'King' likes social hierarchy - especially one where he gets to be at the top of it without having to work hard to get there. People obviously don't recognise his greatness though and except from a few sycophants that would be better off roleplaying or just being honest with themselves and taking that step to being an S&M slave - everyone else will probably think he's a jerk.

These types can come in all shapes and sizes. Some may even look normal...ok, I said 'some'....They're not so easy to spot but look out for the sycophants asking dumb questions like 'Does this _____please you my lord?'

The Theodish King's greatest fear is for people to find out the truth - that he's really covering up rather dramatically for his inferiority complex which comes out rather magnificently if challenged about anything.

The Lokean

These are usually the chaps that look like they *still* wet the bed. They usually dress quite gothic and if you ask them why they play with Loki, they get all whiny and bang on about discrimination. They also blame Loki for anything they fuck up usually saying 'Loki made me do it!' so as to avoid accepting any personal responsability for their actions.

Having said that - I've come across Lokeans that don't fit this mold and although I still personally don't get the 'Why Loki' thing, I don't mind them.

I still have my reservations about being in a blot/faining with Loki involved though....

The Great And Knowledgable One

This variety sits on forums and seems to talk down to anyone with a pair of tits and vagina - of course - a woman couldn't possibly know more than he.....and of course he would only ever have consulted research put together by a woman when he was a 'beginner'.

Of course the thing he dreads most is it getting out that he's actually still probably a beginner and he's trying to cover up his lack of knowledge instead of doing what he should and asking questions and learning.

The 'Godslave'

These are often the most stoic of all. They are only alive because Odin lets them be...or whatever.

They do not question anything and often can be spotted because they're speaking in some bad version of 'Olde Englishe' (They go to the 'shoppe' instead of the shop)

The Anacronist

This boy is easily spotted because he's still living like it was 699AD baby!!!

It's just a pity that the police/fire department/hospital/his neighbours can't understand that.

The Lesser Spotted Lovely Decent Heathen Man

These are very difficult to spot and if you do happen to come across one - snap him up!! He lives in the now, he treats you like an equal (but still has enough of the traditional about him to make you go weak at the knees), he has a good sense of humour and often makes you laugh. He doesn't take himself too seriously and has a sense of honour that makes you feel safe.

Like I said ladies- snap them up if you find them!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A New Day, A New Blog!

For years I've been a Livejournal chick. In fact I was on there when you had to get a code from a friend in order to be able to join. Well, either that or pay....

This blog isn't moving on - not really. This blog is going to be my exclusively Heathen blog for all my Heathen related blurbs. Of course daily life will get in there somewhere - that can't be helped because being a Heathen isn't a weekend activity or something I turn on or off or even can turn on or off. This is for recording my perspective on things, my UPG and my ideas so that I can look back and see how I've changed.

I change a lot. My life is a constant state of flux- especially emotionally. I think Goethe described it best when he said 'On top of the world yet in the depths of despair'. One day I'm flying high on dreams for the future and the next I come crashing down as I worry about the coming challenges and some of the harsh realities of my situation.

My ideas change a lot too, especially about Heathenry as I question and learn and question and learn.

That's all going to go here.

Some days I may not post and others I may post a lot.

Oh well - I have a class to teach.

Toodle pip!