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Author Topic: Thunder Wizard Podcasts  (Read 6370 times)
Mark C.
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« Topic Start: April 22, 2011, 06:38:18 am »

I found these podcasts while web-browsing.  I’ve listened to the first few and enjoyed them very much. They are put together by a guy with a couple of decades of experience of Taoism, Hinduism, etc before coming to Heathery. His view is that his pervious faiths needed him to adopt cultures that were not natural to him to be fully realised. Hence Heathenry was a better choice. He’s “non-folkish” in case that is of concern and is of the view that being “Teutonic” is a matter of belief not genetics.

Personally I found the “Thunder Wizard” title a little off-putting, but the podcasts themselves are pretty good (nowhere near as “fluffy” as the title made my anticipate).

They are well put together, each episode is over 1 hour and they are very listenable. They will probably not be to the tastes of the more ardent Recon Heathen and there is no doubt – indeed there is an open acceptance of it – that his view of Heathenry is coloured by his previous paths.

I found myself disagreeing with certain elements i.e. the good that Loki does is because he is an “unsung hero”, as opposed to him simply always following his ultimately destructive nature and the good being the result of personal concern or threats from other gods as in the case of the Sif’s hair myth, Sleipnir myth etc.

There is also a lot of UPG; but much of the UPG is well thought through and provides much food for thought. His view on the role of the Dwarfs as the manifesters of the divine (my paraphrase) got me thinking.  His take on Odin taking Tyr’s place as Sky-Father was also very interesting.

Much more to listen to, but from what I have heard so far, those here who have not listened to these may well enjoy them; not as a scholarly guide to historical heathenry, but as one person’s take on the meaning of the myths. The presenter is quite open as to his agenda and there is no attempt to present things other than that. As I say, despite an off-putting title, the podcasts are well put together and well worth a listen:

http://thunderwizard.podbean.com/

Mark C.
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« Reply #1: April 22, 2011, 09:22:05 am »

Bookmarked! Thanks for the tip. Smiley
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« Reply #2: April 22, 2011, 06:23:16 pm »


They are well put together, each episode is over 1 hour and they are very listenable. They will probably not be to the tastes of the more ardent Recon Heathen and there is no doubt – indeed there is an open acceptance of it – that his view of Heathenry is coloured by his previous paths.


http://thunderwizard.podbean.com/

Mark C.


I'll have to check it out.

They're talking about this over at AL and the complaint that interested me the most was that people keep trying to force a mystery religion label on heathenry, which isn't a mystery religion. I think that's a fair criticism... how much change can you bring to the underlying concepts of a path before it stops being that path?
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hlewagastir
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« Reply #3: April 23, 2011, 05:58:39 pm »

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"(...) my interpretations of the eight Runes for Spiritual fulfillment. (...) shamanic connections with the Ancient Teutons (...) shamanic spiritual traditions."

Seriously... This is the most retarded thing I have seen connected with Asatru/heathenry in ages.

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Mark C.
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« Reply #4: April 24, 2011, 08:36:47 am »

They're talking about this over at AL and the complaint that interested me the most was that people keep trying to force a mystery religion label on heathenry, which isn't a mystery religion. I think that's a fair criticism... how much change can you bring to the underlying concepts of a path before it stops being that path?

That’s a good question! Does having a view different from that which was held historically bar you from being heathen? Christianity certainly has lots of different “denominations” holding different theologies and yet the majority of those approaches accept that the other approaches are still “Christian”. Maybe this is one area where Christians are generally more tolerant than Heathens? Interesting to explore, but perhaps for another thread.

While I feel the need to clearly mark what is historical and what is not, I’m personally not keen on the idea of “Heathen Dogma” or the adopting of a “Heathener than Thou” attitude. To be fair to the presenter of these podcasts, at no point does he claim this is historical heathenry. He is totally upfront that this is a modern practise based on his own take on things. He is also careful to point out that the views expressed are his own. I’m not sure why people would find that objectionable? If he was claiming that this was historical and the “one true way” then fair enough. But when he takes pains to avoid doing just that I don’t see why people should object to someone deviating from the norm?

The Mystery Religion thing is an area I need to think more about. First thoughts are that we need to ask why the myths are the way they are? One option is that they are the way they are because they are cold, hard facts. However, in this age you’d have to fly in the face of all reason and modern knowledge to hold the view that thunderstorms really are Thor in his chariot (as opposed to discharges of electrical energy), that rainbows are a bridge to Asgard (as opposed to sunlight being defused through raindrops), etc. So if the myths are not demonstrable fact, why hold on to them? What value do they have if “untrue”?

My thought would be that although not literally true, they poetically point to a truth about our nature and the nature of the universe in which we reside. The myths therefore lead us to truth, but are not truth in themselves. Is this need to look beyond the surface all that is needed to define a “Mystery Religion”?

The Germanic people produced a mythology that was relevant to how they saw themselves and the universe. I think we can be pretty safe in assuming that no one ever personally spoke to a one-eyed guy called Odin; we therefore can be equally safe in saying that the mythology developed out of internal and external observations  which where then coloured by culture. Those in the middle east did the same. The Greeks did the same. The Native Americans did the same. And so on for all the cultures of the world. While the culture was specific to the region, the common ground is that we are all humans living in the same universe. So while “cultural truth” is relative, “universal truth” is common. I therefore think there can be value in comparing and contrasting other mythologies and religions to find the common ground. There can also be value in people putting forward personal views on the underlying nature of a mythology or all mythologies.

This is not to say I’m a fan of mixing religions / mythologies together. I’m not (which is one of my reservations with the podcasts). As an analogy the data of the internet is unintelligible without a browser through which to organise it. You can use Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer and all work fine. However, if you were to try to mix the code of those browser programs together, the resulting browser would not work. Same with a hodgepodge of religious belief: Stick to something that has been proven to work.

To continue the analogy, all those individual browsers are still viewing the same internet. In the same way, I see different mythologies / religions / worldviews as being culturally appropriate ways of viewing, experiencing and connecting to the same things. The only alternative is to view the different cultures as having inhabiting universes; and I don’t see as tenable.

Ultimately, to me, the value of the browser is how effectively it allows you to see the internet. The browser has NO inherent value in itself. Likewise the mythology of Heathenry has no inherent value in itself other than what it leads us to. Does this mean I feel Heathenry is a “Mystery Religion”? Not sure about that to be honest as I’m not sure what is meant by a “Mystery Religion”? I do know that I would see never looking beyond the surface of the myth as “getting stuck on the metaphor” and that’s one of the things I find problematic with “mainstream religions”: “There really was a world wide flood”, “All humans are descended from Adam and Eve”, “Our religion is the only true one” and so on.

It’s interesting to note that the Romans had no problem referring to Odin as “Mercury”, Tyr as “Mars”, Thor as “Jupiter” etc. This, to me, suggests and acknowledgment that there is a universal truth beyond cultural specifics. Not once did they say the gods of the Germans were “false”; and they also saw common ground.

It also worth noting that the Frisian mercenaries set up an alter in a Northumberland roman settlement in the third century to Tyr with the inscription “Mars Thingsus” i.e. Mars of the Assembly. They obviously saw an underlying commonality to Roman and Germanic mythologies. To not look beyond the mythology to the “non-cultural underlying common truth” would strike me as at variance with the practise on these historical heathens.
 
Back to the podcasts, there is some mixing and matching in his views, which is not to my tastes, but I still found some interesting thoughts within the podcasts. It would be worrying if we established “heathen heresy” and instantly condemned people for having a personal viewpoint; especially when they are totally open about that that is what it is. We can think about these thoughts for ourselves and I see no need to criticise people simply for expressing an opinion. Criticise the views by all means though.

It would also be worrying if we insisted the myths be taken literally (which causes personal and political problems the world over), refused to accept there is such a thing as a common human experience which is divorced from culture, and that there was much value in finding and discussing the elements of that common human experience. It concerns me that some are saying it is not heathen to do that and claim a “mystery religion” perversion.

Seriously... This is the most retarded thing I have seen connected with Asatru/heathenry in ages.

Why “retarded”? The views expressed did not strike me as stupid or ill thought through. They are not historical, but they are consistent within themselves. I suspect what you mean is that you strongly disagree with them and feel they have no merit?

Mark C.
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« Reply #5: April 24, 2011, 09:15:19 am »


While I feel the need to clearly mark what is historical and what is not, I’m personally not keen on the idea of “Heathen Dogma” or the adopting of a “Heathener than Thou” attitude. To be fair to the presenter of these podcasts, at no point does he claim this is historical heathenry. He is totally upfront that this is a modern practise based on his own take on things. He is also careful to point out that the views expressed are his own. I’m not sure why people would find that objectionable? If he was claiming that this was historical and the “one true way” then fair enough. But when he takes pains to avoid doing just that I don’t see why people should object to someone deviating from the norm?


While I agree that there isn't a dogma, there is something that makes a heathen a heathen. What would that be? I think it's an important question to ask when we're parsing what one can and can't believe/follow, and see if the information fits with the answer.

Quote
The Mystery Religion thing is an area I need to think more about. First thoughts are that we need to ask why the myths are the way they are? One option is that they are the way they are because they are cold, hard facts. However, in this age you’d have to fly in the face of all reason and modern knowledge to hold the view that thunderstorms really are Thor in his chariot (as opposed to discharges of electrical energy), that rainbows are a bridge to Asgard (as opposed to sunlight being defused through raindrops), etc. So if the myths are not demonstrable fact, why hold on to them? What value do they have if “untrue”?

My thought would be that although not literally true, they poetically point to a truth about our nature and the nature of the universe in which we reside. The myths therefore lead us to truth, but are not truth in themselves. Is this need to look beyond the surface all that is needed to define a “Mystery Religion”?

A mystery religion is defined as a cult of secret or mystical rites for initiates. I don't see the mythology as being mystical in the slightest and I think that people keep attempting to discover Mysteries within heathenry that just don't exist.

Tho..There were initiary cults with certain tribes of warriors and possibly the Valkyrie were a cult reserved for women, but on a whole heathenry was a folkway and not a mystery religion. 

Quote
we therefore can be equally safe in saying that the mythology developed out of internal and external observations  which where then coloured by culture. Those in the middle east did the same. The Greeks did the same. The Native Americans did the same. And so on for all the cultures of the world. While the culture was specific to the region, the common ground is that we are all humans living in the same universe. So while “cultural truth” is relative, “universal truth” is common. I therefore think there can be value in comparing and contrasting other mythologies and religions to find the common ground. There can also be value in people putting forward personal views on the underlying nature of a mythology or all mythologies.

I think they are interesting- the different theories. But I do think appreciating heathenry for itself is also pretty interesting. There's quite a bit of depth there that is fascinating to explore for it's own merits without needing to find a secret mystical knowledge within it. I think sometimes people look for what they aren't seeing, rather than looking closer at what they do see.



Quote
Ultimately, to me, the value of the browser is how effectively it allows you to see the internet. The browser has NO inherent value in itself. Likewise the mythology of Heathenry has no inherent value in itself other than what it leads us to. Does this mean I feel Heathenry is a “Mystery Religion”? Not sure about that to be honest as I’m not sure what is meant by a “Mystery Religion”? I do know that I would see never looking beyond the surface of the myth as “getting stuck on the metaphor” and that’s one of the things I find problematic with “mainstream religions”: “There really was a world wide flood”, “All humans are descended from Adam and Eve”, “Our religion is the only true one” and so on.

What do you think the mythology of heathenry leads us to? 

Quote
It’s interesting to note that the Romans had no problem referring to Odin as “Mercury”, Tyr as “Mars”, Thor as “Jupiter” etc. This, to me, suggests and acknowledgment that there is a universal truth beyond cultural specifics. Not once did they say the gods of the Germans were “false”; and they also saw common ground.

I wouldn't say a universal truth, per se. Yes, the Romans adjusted the germanic gods to fit into their understanding (Thor would be Odin's father according to the Romans), and heathens even acknowledged and accepted the existance of other gods, but I don't think this is proof of a Universal truth. Most religions are connected in some way since we, as a species, all originated in the same place. Jupiter aka Dis Pater is an off-shoot of the PIE tiwaz/tuis who is also the origin of the germanic Tyr.  Yet Tyr and Jupiter are completely different personalities and so the Romans equated Mars as Tyr.

Quote
It also worth noting that the Frisian mercenaries set up an alter in a Northumberland roman settlement in the third century to Tyr with the inscription “Mars Thingsus” i.e. Mars of the Assembly. They obviously saw an underlying commonality to Roman and Germanic mythologies. To not look beyond the mythology to the “non-cultural underlying common truth” would strike me as at variance with the practise on these historical heathens.

Again, it wasn't an underlying truth because Tyr is related to Jupiter in the actual "common truth", but so unlike that origin that they aren't even linked. They recognized that they had similar gods, but people have similar needs. And to me this isn't mystical or mysterious.
 
Quote
Back to the podcasts, there is some mixing and matching in his views, which is not to my tastes, but I still found some interesting thoughts within the podcasts. It would be worrying if we established “heathen heresy” and instantly condemned people for having a personal viewpoint; especially when they are totally open about that that is what it is. We can think about these thoughts for ourselves and I see no need to criticise people simply for expressing an opinion. Criticise the views by all means though.

It would also be worrying if we insisted the myths be taken literally (which causes personal and political problems the world over), refused to accept there is such a thing as a common human experience which is divorced from culture, and that there was much value in finding and discussing the elements of that common human experience. It concerns me that some are saying it is not heathen to do that and claim a “mystery religion” perversion.


Just to reiterate...I think the question of what makes a heathen a heathen should be asked. It's easy to say what heathenry isn't, but what is it? I think the conversation would move forward better if we could define this. 
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« Reply #6: April 24, 2011, 09:35:27 am »

That’s a good question! Does having a view different from that which was held historically bar you from being heathen? Christianity certainly has lots of different “denominations” holding different theologies and yet the majority of those approaches accept that the other approaches are still “Christian”. Maybe this is one area where Christians are generally more tolerant than Heathens? Interesting to explore, but perhaps for another thread.


Also wanted to add that heathenry also has it's different branches. There are the Anglo-Saxons, the Scandinavian, the Continental Germanics, the Theodish, there are the folkish, the universalists and the cultural. These all adhere, however, to the underlying worldview of heathenry, just as the denominations of Christianity adhere to its fundamental principles.
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Mark C.
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« Reply #7: April 25, 2011, 06:46:16 am »

While I agree that there isn't a dogma, there is something that makes a heathen a heathen. What would that be? I think it's an important question to ask when we're parsing what one can and can't believe/follow, and see if the information fits with the answer.

I would guess that almost every sub-group is going to have a slightly different definition. It is an important question, but getting a definition that everyone can buy into is going to be very difficult, if not impossible. I’ll take a stab at it further down.

I wonder if Christianity, being much more widely practised and established, is in a better position to be a “broad church”? The reconstruction of heathenry is only a few decades old and hence there is much more “It’s not that! It’s this!” which I guess is to be expected. Give us a few hundred years to get back on track and we’ll be fine.

A mystery religion is defined as a cult of secret or mystical rites for initiates. I don't see the mythology as being mystical in the slightest and I think that people keep attempting to discover Mysteries within heathenry that just don't exist.

Thanks for that. I certainly don’t see heathenry as a cult with secret mystical rites! So, by that definition, I don’t see it as a mystery religion either.

However, if heathenry has no “mysteries”, no underlying depth and is very much “what you see is what you get”, then what is the point of it? If we look at things at a surface level only:

1 – Thunder is not the smashing together of air, but it really is a muscular god throwing a hammer at giants. That’s plainly nonsense and flies in the face of all scientific knowledge. Maybe we’d be better saying that what you see is not what you get and that Thor is representative of something deeper?

2 – If heathenry is “what you see is what you get” then other mythologies are flat out wrong. If Thor truly is the god of thunder, then that’s what he is and Zeus, Indra, Jupiter, Ukko, etc are all “false gods” (put on the news at any time of the day or night to see the mess, intolerance and insular thinking that can result from taking mythologies literarily instead of poetically). They can’t be “cultural poetry” for the same underlying things, because there is no underlying level. Again, maybe we would be better saying that the surface level is not where things end?

3 – If we take everything as “what you see is what you get” then we never experience what our ancestors experienced. They saw thunderstorms and that experience gave rise to the imagery of Thor. It’s not the imagery I want. What I want is the experience that they had. The combination of the thunderstorm and its poetic representation can lead me to that. Taking the poetic representation literarily isolates me from the experience that gave rise to that mythology i.e. “there is no underlying experience to be sought; what you see is what you get”. I can pick up a book and instantly experience the mythology … but that, to me, is a shallow experience. What I want it the deeper experience that gave rise to that mythology. That’s not possible if we say there is no deeper experience to be had.

I think they are interesting- the different theories. But I do think appreciating heathenry for itself is also pretty interesting. There's quite a bit of depth there that is fascinating to explore for it's own merits without needing to find a secret mystical knowledge within it.

I don’t see anything “secret” or “mystical” within heathenry either; but I do think it has deeper levels. Is heathenry just a set of mythological tales from a people with no better explanation for natural phenomena? Or is heathenry as set of mythological tales designed to lead us somewhere? The stories themselves are, in my view, totally pointless if they don’t give rise to any kind of experience or insight. I felt that heathenry was the seeking of that experience and insight. So it is valuable “in itself”, but that “self” is designed to take us somewhere. It has a function and it not an end it itself.

I think sometimes people look for what they aren't seeing, rather than looking closer at what they do see.

Very true. What I am suggesting however is a deeper look at what we are seeing to see it anew. If I look at a poem, I can see black shapes on a white page, or I can see words and a message, or I can think about that message and eventually experience the same thoughts and emotions that give rise to the poem in the first place. There are many levels we can experience the poem. I see heathery as being the same and it’s the later levels I want to eventually reach. I can’t do that if I were to deny those levels were there.

What do you think the mythology of heathenry leads us to?


I would hope that it can lead us to have the same deep and very real experiences and insights that our ancestors had. Those exact same experiences and insights that gave rise to their mythology. Beyond that, I would hope that it can also lead us to realise that the core experience is common to all peoples the world over. If I thought that mythology lead nowhere other than to itself, I would see it as a pointless pursuit.

Just to reiterate...I think the question of what makes a heathen a heathen should be asked. It's easy to say what heathenry isn't, but what is it? I think the conversation would move forward better if we could define this.

Absolutely. My sure to be inaccurate first crack at this would be, “A heathen is some one whose worldview and religious practise is based on the worldview and religious practise of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples of north western Europe”. However, I think I have another way of getting around the question of “what makes a heathen a heathen” that will be better for me, and perhaps others?

My first post on this forum was asking if I was “Heathen”, and I think I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not. There are a few reasons for this. The term “Heathen” is so ill defined as to be of very limited use and it has very little definitive value. I also feel that by adopting a “common label” there is an onus on me ensure the use of that label is accurate. That’s too limiting for me. I don’t want to spend any time explaining why what I do is or is not “heathen”. I also don’t want to have my thinking or potential experiences limited by the definitions or consensus of others. Saying “I’m not heathen” could therefore be quite liberating.

I am someone who feels the mythologies, worldview and religious practises of my ancestors can lead me to a more vigorous, insightful and meaningful life (and perhaps that is the best and only description that would work for me?). I also want to accurately understand those mythologies, worldview and religious practises from their historical perspective. I don’t however want what I do with that information to be limited by others.

I’m not sure I want the label of “heathen” as avoiding it frees me from having to fit in with, or pose counter arguments to, whatever definition people who do use the label personally subscribe to it.

Having written that, I quite like it! I’m not “heathen”, but I am someone who feels the mythologies, worldview and religious practises of my ancestors can lead me to a more vigorous, insightful and meaningful life. That could work!

Mark C.
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« Reply #8: April 25, 2011, 12:17:55 pm »


I’m not sure I want the label of “heathen” as avoiding it frees me from having to fit in with, or pose counter arguments to, whatever definition people who do use the label personally subscribe to it.

Having written that, I quite like it! I’m not “heathen”, but I am someone who feels the mythologies, worldview and religious practises of my ancestors can lead me to a more vigorous, insightful and meaningful life. That could work!

 Sad I feel like I broke you. I wasn't trying to make you decide that you weren't heathen.

Quote
Absolutely. My sure to be inaccurate first crack at this would be, “A heathen is some one whose worldview and religious practise is based on the worldview and religious practise of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples of north western Europe”. However, I think I have another way of getting around the question of “what makes a heathen a heathen” that will be better for me, and perhaps others?

My first post on this forum was asking if I was “Heathen”, and I think I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m not. There are a few reasons for this. The term “Heathen” is so ill defined as to be of very limited use and it has very little definitive value. I also feel that by adopting a “common label” there is an onus on me ensure the use of that label is accurate. That’s too limiting for me. I don’t want to spend any time explaining why what I do is or is not “heathen”. I also don’t want to have my thinking or potential experiences limited by the definitions or consensus of others. Saying “I’m not heathen” could therefore be quite liberating.

Well... I think there are a few things that makes a heathen a heathen without it being limiting. First off of course is a belief in the germanic gods, but this isn't even necessary. There are kings in the sagas who were heathen but chose not to trust in the gods but in their own might and main. Secondly, I think it's about family and home. I've said it before on here, but heathens didn't have the concept of 'I' like we do. The smallest unit was the family. I would just be an extension of my family. Their actions would influence me and mine them and it would all influence the luck of our family. Which is why outlawing was a big deal. And why I *don't* think there was a concept of personal enlightenment in authentic heathen worship or shamanism. And I see that a lot in these blogs and authors who bring new age techniques into heathenry and try to find secret messages in that regard. Those mysteries wouldn't exist in that way because they didn't think in that way. (And families and communities and tribes all had different ways in which to worship, honor and behave so no, there wasn't a set Way.) Thirdly it's the belief that life *here* mattered. It was your life and how it helps your family and how it will help your descendants that was of concern. It wasn't important to figure out some spiritual nirvana outside of daily life, or finding the source of god, or transcending to a new plane. I don't even think they had time for that.

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However, if heathenry has no “mysteries”, no underlying depth and is very much “what you see is what you get”, then what is the point of it?



ár ok friðr basically comes down to the Germanic concept of salvation. "Good harvest and peace." They wanted stable agriculture, plenty of fish, peace, lack of crime, and security. Salvation wasn't ascending to or arriving at a spiritually superior place, but at having the best here. People didn't die and leave, they died and continued life in the grave, on the land. That was especially hard for me to realize- not the remaining in the grave part- but that they didn't look up into the sky and the Universe and think about rising and going out. Midgard was a bubble, the stars just surrounded it and everything remained in it. This is why Ragnarok and the Jotnar are extremely dreadful...they don't just attack the living, but they'll destroy everything. Those alive, those dead. They'll destroy lines and lines of ancestry, and the after-life. Heathens don't die, rise to a hall and continue life in some spiritually secluded and separate place...they die and go on living here, assisting descendants, managing land, etc. To spirituall ascend, according to these sorts of new age techniques and modern shamanism, is to abandon your family and community.


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1 – Thunder is not the smashing together of air, but it really is a muscular god throwing a hammer at giants. That’s plainly nonsense and flies in the face of all scientific knowledge. Maybe we’d be better saying that what you see is not what you get and that Thor is representative of something deeper?

I think Thor is something deeper and not literally thunder and lightning. To sort of explain, grass and trees are like the flesh of a body, but the wights are the spirit. Grass is just grass, but it is alive- and there is spirit attached. Thor is spirit, Thor is a wight, and if he attaches himself to Thunder and Lightning, and walks with it over fields to give his blessing and luck, then so be it. Can thunder, lightning, rain, hail be the flesh of Thor, sure..just like my skin is the flesh of me but not me (and can scientifically be explained away. Wink ). I think seeing this ...life and spirit...in the world around me is plenty deep and spiritual.

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2 – If heathenry is “what you see is what you get” then other mythologies are flat out wrong. If Thor truly is the god of thunder, then that’s what he is and Zeus, Indra, Jupiter, Ukko, etc are all “false gods” (put on the news at any time of the day or night to see the mess, intolerance and insular thinking that can result from taking mythologies literarily instead of poetically). They can’t be “cultural poetry” for the same underlying things, because there is no underlying level. Again, maybe we would be better saying that the surface level is not where things end?

Noo... Thats like saying that since you have flesh and I have flesh then one of us is real and all the flesh and the other is fake. Thor is the spirit that rides the lightning, lightnign is not the spirit. Since I call on Thor he arrives, but if I called on Jupiter he would arrive. This was another thing that was hard for me, moving here to the SW. The Native American spirit is all around, and I was very concerned about finding my gods here. But I did. Thor can ride the lightning along side the NA thunder god, just like multiple people can ride a bus. 


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3 – If we take everything as “what you see is what you get” then we never experience what our ancestors experienced. They saw thunderstorms and that experience gave rise to the imagery of Thor. It’s not the imagery I want. What I want is the experience that they had. The combination of the thunderstorm and its poetic representation can lead me to that. Taking the poetic representation literarily isolates me from the experience that gave rise to that mythology i.e. “there is no underlying experience to be sought; what you see is what you get”. I can pick up a book and instantly experience the mythology … but that, to me, is a shallow experience. What I want it the deeper experience that gave rise to that mythology. That’s not possible if we say there is no deeper experience to be had.

There is a deeper experience and a deeper connection... Midgard is not separate from the spiritual, it lives all around us. The ground you walk on is Ymir. The clouds above you are his brain. When the sun rises and blankets the sky it's Tyr the pillar, walking across the land and holding it up. Frigga weaves the cloud and orlog, those unseen currents that for some reason blow an eight of an inch this way or that way. What I see with a lot of this personal shamanic, new age transcendency techniques isn't a way to connect with the natural world but a way to separate yourself. A way to say "this isn't good enough" and to find something better. It's like we can't just live and die and have beauty in the human experience, we have to make it more. And we look inside for that instead of looking outside. "Jotnar can't possible be some actual spirits on earth, they have to be the animalistic nature inside of us all that needs to be overcome and then I'll be happier, at peace, wiser, etc."  Well, why can't it be an actual wight that wants to overthrow the Aesir and change things up? Why can't Thor actually ride the lightning?

The basis for the Valkyrie most likely came from old women picking at the dead for money, valuables, food...especially considering the economics, as well as from the birds that would pick at the flesh. I don't think this makes the valkyrie any less spiritual, in fact I consider it a very striking visual. Considering the dead don't leave and that this was a part of life, I can also see how the disir would arise, a spiritual woman who would collect the spirit from the body. Because the dead and the living work together, life continues on midgard, and there's quite a bit of ...importance and depth there without having to see the Valkyries as agents of transcendency (as some blogs have claimed).


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I don’t see anything “secret” or “mystical” within heathenry either; but I do think it has deeper levels. Is heathenry just a set of mythological tales from a people with no better explanation for natural phenomena? Or is heathenry as set of mythological tales designed to lead us somewhere? The stories themselves are, in my view, totally pointless if they don’t give rise to any kind of experience or insight. I felt that heathenry was the seeking of that experience and insight. So it is valuable “in itself”, but that “self” is designed to take us somewhere. It has a function and it not an end it itself.

I think the mythology gives us something. I don't think it necessarily explains natural phenomonen, and to be fair, they may contain huge insights and hints that we haven't discovered yet, but I think they would reflect how the heathens saw the world and not how we now see the world. Below is something I just wrote in another thread about how I see the Tyr-Fenrir myth. Something that a lot of people try to find some sort of mystical statement in (and it could have that, I think it's a myth that can be relevent on many, many layers.):

"I think, and this could be totally wrong, that people tend to feel sympathy for the outcast. That it's hard to imagine something as being all bad (someone must have made them bad), or that the outcasts are just bullied by the popular kids/Aesir and that they have every right to be angry. And I can understand this. Which is why I really like Tyr. In the chaining of Fenrir we know that it's Tyr who puts his hand in Fenrir's mouth and has it bitten off. What's deeper in that myth is that Tyr was friends with Fenrir. He fed the wolf and took care of him and raised him. And it was he that stepped forward of all the Aesir to betray him. He was close with Fenrir but knew he had to do what was best for everyone, and that as his friend it should be he to do the deed. It would be worse to sit back and watch someone else do it. And he lost his hand in the process, that was his penance for breaking his friendship. I think we all deal with that at sometime in our life- where we have people we really care about even if they are unstable or misunderstood, but at some point we have to realize that that person isn't healthy, isn't helping anyone, and is a danger to others/something. (I also think thats why Tyr is the perfect god of justice.) It's actually a rather tragic story. It tells a lot about sacrifice for the right of the community over what's right for one person. It tells a lot about justice and the necessity of it even if it's painful, and the consequences of being unjust. With Fenrir as the pet chained outside and neglected it speaks about the pain of outlawry, and losing those we had cared and hoped for, and just the way 'right' can seem unfair and hurtful. For a culture that was about survival and honor and brotherhood it was probably an important tale.


So, I think with both Hel and Fenrir and the like we can understand them, and see deeper into what the myths are about rather than just function, and sort of...bring them to life and bring a song to the story, even if we don't worship or honor all of the characters. "

I think the mythology talk to us about the here and now. About making the human experience good, about how we should conduct ourselves to achieve ár ok friðr. About how it's a collabrative effort between us and the gods. I also think that the stories aren't literal, but how we perceive it. Like a child in the womb who hears the noises from outside, and creates a narative based off emotion and sense, without fully comprehending how those objects, noises, emotions take shape or appear. But I don't think there is some hidden key to universal knowledge in them that strips the gods of their mantles and reveals them as something unknown and alien and superior.


*Deep breath* Hmmm. I'm hoping this didn't become tl;dr. I heart heathenry and could talk about it forever. Wink

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« Reply #9: April 25, 2011, 02:41:10 pm »


Why “retarded”? The views expressed did not strike me as stupid or ill thought through. They are not historical, but they are consistent within themselves. I suspect what you mean is that you strongly disagree with them and feel they have no merit?

Mark C.


Retarded because these "views" represent a perversion of Northern European culture of a magnitude I have seldom seen.
Do I care what this person makes up and why it is accessible to the wider public... Yes I do, because this misinformation is presented under the tags "heathen and "asatru". It is not nice to throw 19th century, mystical UPG at newcomers without labeling it as such.

IMO he can do his thing as much as he wants... I´m just annoyed that he lable it as heathenry and asatru.


Rant over...
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« Reply #10: April 26, 2011, 06:32:00 am »

Wow! That’s a great post! I like it lots!

Sad I feel like I broke you. I wasn't trying to make you decide that you weren't heathen.

You can relax :-) It’s something that’s been in my mind for a long time – since I fist started posting here – and I think avoiding the label in the best way to avoid “limitation by definition” and the “dogma” put forward in some areas of Heathenry (i.e. you are not “Heathen” if …). I don’t really need a label to define myself and I don’t want to be defined by others. Avoiding the label seems to be a wise move for me personally.

And why I *don't* think there was a concept of personal enlightenment in authentic heathen worship or shamanism. And I see that a lot in these blogs and authors who bring new age techniques into heathenry and try to find secret messages in that regard.

I agree. What I want from the myths is not some pathway to understanding “the other worlds”, but a richer deeper appreciation of this one. So I do see “meaning beyond myth” but I don’t think that has to automatically mean it is the “mystical” or “supernatural” that is being sought.

I don’t believe in “other worlds”. All “nine worlds” are part of the here and now. What I die that’s it. Game over. I don’t believe in magic either.

The here and now is what I care about and I feel the mythology helps with that. The “deeper” level I am talking about it not elsewhere, but here. Not “enlightenment” that diminishes the importance of this world, or as a means to avoid returning to it (i.e. Hinduism or Buddhism), but a deeper appreciation of the world around me and my place in it.

Heathens don't die, rise to a hall and continue life in some spiritually secluded and separate place...they die and go on living here, assisting descendants, managing land, etc. To spiritually ascend, according to these sorts of new age techniques and modern shamanism, is to abandon your family and community.

My view is that when I die, I die. There is no “soul” that will survive my physical death. My deeds while alive will hopefully help those who come after me, but that’s it. However, I do feel the myths help me to live this live in a more insightful, vigorous and meaningful way. They are a means to those insights, vigour and meaning, and have little meaning in and of themselves.

I think Thor is something deeper and not literally thunder and lightning. To sort of explain, grass and trees are like the flesh of a body, but the wights are the spirit. Grass is just grass, but it is alive- and there is spirit attached. Thor is spirit, Thor is a wight, and if he attaches himself to Thunder and Lightning, and walks with it over fields to give his blessing and luck, then so be it.

That’s exactly how I see things and that’s what I mean about not taking the myths literarily but seeing them as poetic representation for something “deeper”. 

Noo... Thats like saying that since you have flesh and I have flesh then one of us is real and all the flesh and the other is fake. Thor is the spirit that rides the lightning, lightnign is not the spirit. Since I call on Thor he arrives, but if I called on Jupiter he would arrive. This was another thing that was hard for me, moving here to the SW. The Native American spirit is all around, and I was very concerned about finding my gods here. But I did. Thor can ride the lightning along side the NA thunder god, just like multiple people can ride a bus.

I think you’ve misunderstood me here. I’m not talking about gods travelling. What I meant was that if we take the myths literally then Odin and his bothers created the universe and anyone who says otherwise is wrong i.e. “it was not Jehovah, because our myths are the right ones!” We all live on the same earth in the same universe so all the mythologies from around the world can’t all be right as they all give different creation stories. However, if we take them poetically then we can see them as different cultures having a different take on the same universe, the same earth, the same lightening, etc.

Christians and Muslims (generally) take their myths literally and this leads to the view that the “unbelievers” have it wrong. I think we are better saying the myths are not literal, but poetic. The Native American’s have their way of experiencing the world and their place in it and that is reflected in their myths. A heathen will have their way of experiencing the world and their place in it and that is reflected in their myths. From a poetic perspective all myths are right and we accept that they are connected by the fact there is a common human experience (outside of folk or cultural ideas), a common earth, a common universe, etc.

They myths, in their totality, tell us how a given group saw the world and their place in it. Tyr may not be exactly the same a Mars, but when viewed as part of the whole they tell us how cultures looked at the common experience of war. And so on.

There is a deeper experience and a deeper connection... Midgard is not separate from the spiritual, it lives all around us. The ground you walk on is Ymir. The clouds above you are his brain. When the sun rises and blankets the sky it's Tyr the pillar, walking across the land and holding it up. Frigga weaves the cloud and orlog, those unseen currents that for some reason blow an eight of an inch this way or that way. What I see with a lot of this personal shamanic, new age transcendency techniques isn't a way to connect with the natural world but a way to separate yourself. A way to say "this isn't good enough" and to find something better. It's like we can't just live and die and have beauty in the human experience, we have to make it more.

Love that and could not agree more! As I said previously, the “deeper level” I see to the myths is not to be found in some other spiritual plane, but in the here and now.

I think the mythology talk to us about the here and now. About making the human experience good, about how we should conduct ourselves to achieve ár ok friðr. About how it's a collabrative effort between us and the gods. I also think that the stories aren't literal, but how we perceive it. Like a child in the womb who hears the noises from outside, and creates a narative based off emotion and sense, without fully comprehending how those objects, noises, emotions take shape or appear. But I don't think there is some hidden key to universal knowledge in them that strips the gods of their mantles and reveals them as something unknown and alien and superior.

Love that too! Yes, that’s exactly how I see things. My worry is that people sometimes take the myths literally and don’t accept that they point to something beyond direct perception and that is best expressed in poetic language. That “poetic language” can help us better appreciate what we can’t fully appreciate (even if all we get is the sense of awe of what it is we can’t appreciate!)

Thanks for this. I got a lot form the post and I love the way you express things!

Back to the podcasts, I like to hear what others have to say about the myths, regardless of whether I agree or not. The “new-agey” aspects were not to my tastes for the reasons discussed. However, his take on what the dwarfs were was very interesting to me.

You said, “To sort of explain, grass and trees are like the flesh of a body, but the wights are the spirit.” He said that he saw the dwarfs as the entities that made the spirit manifest. When you consider the gifts that Loki has the dwarfs make for the gods that makes lots of sense. For example, the lightening is “Thor’s hammer”. Thor is the spirit behind the lightening, and it is the dwarfs who make it manifest in “this world” (i.e. the elements we perceive with our limited five senses). Makes perfect sense to me and that view has nothing to do with taking “shamanistic journeys to other worlds”.

So for that one thing to think about alone, listening to the podcasts was totally worth it. It got me thinking about the relationship between the world we perceive and the underlying ordering forces that we do not … and how the dwarfs could be poetic representation of that in the mythology.

Mark C.
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« Reply #11: April 26, 2011, 07:14:26 am »

Retarded because these "views" represent a perversion of Northern European culture of a magnitude I have seldom seen.

They don’t though. His introduction to every podcast makes it clear this is a “modern” take on things and therefore is not representative of Northern European culture. He also makes it repeatedly clear in the podcasts that his views are his views.

Do I care what this person makes up and why it is accessible to the wider public... Yes I do, because this misinformation is presented under the tags "heathen and "asatru". It is not nice to throw 19th century, mystical UPG at newcomers without labelling it as such.

It’s true that the podcast is tagged with those phrases on Podbean, probably so people looking for information related to those subjects can find them (as I did). However, the podcasts themselves and the text on the associated website at no point say this is heathen or asatru. I therefore don’t think it would throw any newcomers as it is abundantly clear what it is. If you listen to the podcasts you can hear that all is clearly “labelled” as one man’s modern take on the myths. Not once is it presented as being representative of heathenry or asatru as a whole.

I do get that if he had made such an assertion it could be problematic though and I get why you would feel aggrieved if you felt heathenry or asatru was being misrepresented.

Speaking generally now: As per the above posts, this is one reason what I feel it is better for me to not adopt the label of “heathen”. Perhaps others too? As soon as you do, any perceived attempt to be “heathen” in a way that does not fit with the strict definition held by another group leads to cries akin to “Heresy!”. Not saying this is case here, but you can see the parallels.

The monotheistic religions are generally too controlling and too “totalitarian” for my tastes and, it pains me to say, I see similar thinking in many areas heathery. There is a right way and all else is not “heathen”.

I’m not a fan of an unquestioning “free for all” and I’m not a fan of “made up stuff” being presented as historical lore. Equally though I’m not a fan of “heathen dogma” with various subsets all claiming a definitive definition of what “true heathenry” is.

The recons are accused of being “non-spiritual” and not practising heathenry in a living way. The more “fluffy” types are accused of being not true heathens and denying the beliefs of their ancestors. And on and on. The “this is heathen, this is not heathen” debates are perhaps a hang over from a monotheistic “one way is right” worldview? Either way, coming up with a definition and then defending it (converting others to it?) is not something I’m interested in.

Generally speaking, and leaving the “fundamentalists” to one side, Christians of all denominations seem to get on much better with one another than those with varying definitions of heathenry do. There is little in the way of acknowledging common ground; whist all the while maintaining a strong acknowledgement of the differences that keep the various approaches distinct. The differences reign supreme and this makes for a very fractured religion / worldview.

I do find some of what goes on very reminiscent of the more extreme fundamentalists within monotheistic religions were “our way is the right way and all dissenters need to be converted, ridiculed or ostracised”. In not wanting to pick a side and fight for it, the best / only option is to avoid the label of “heathen” all together. After all, it was not a label our ancestors used (neither was “asatru”) and therefore I feel it takes more than it gives.

Mark C.
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« Reply #12: April 26, 2011, 07:48:23 am »

First off, loving this discussion. Smiley Mark C. and Juniperberry, you guys rock.

They don’t though. His introduction to every podcast makes it clear this is a “modern” take on things and therefore is not representative of Northern European culture. He also makes it repeatedly clear in the podcasts that his views are his views.

It’s true that the podcast is tagged with those phrases on Podbean, probably so people looking for information related to those subjects can find them (as I did). However, the podcasts themselves and the text on the associated website at no point say this is heathen or asatru. I therefore don’t think it would throw any newcomers as it is abundantly clear what it is. If you listen to the podcasts you can hear that all is clearly “labelled” as one man’s modern take on the myths. Not once is it presented as being representative of heathenry or asatru as a whole.

<snip>

The monotheistic religions are generally too controlling and too “totalitarian” for my tastes and, it pains me to say, I see similar thinking in many areas heathery. There is a right way and all else is not “heathen”.

I’m not a fan of an unquestioning “free for all” and I’m not a fan of “made up stuff” being presented as historical lore. Equally though I’m not a fan of “heathen dogma” with various subsets all claiming a definitive definition of what “true heathenry” is.

The recons are accused of being “non-spiritual” and not practising heathenry in a living way. The more “fluffy” types are accused of being not true heathens and denying the beliefs of their ancestors. And on and on.
Here, here! Couldn't agree more on all this, FWIW.
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« Reply #13: April 26, 2011, 08:30:15 am »

Hi Mark.

Thank you for your sensible and calm respons, I´ll try to follow your example

They don’t though. His introduction to every podcast makes it clear this is a “modern” take on things and therefore is not representative of Northern European culture. He also makes it repeatedly clear in the podcasts that his views are his views.

Mark C.


It might be modern, but he claims that it is "derived from spiritual and energetic principles contained in the mythological lore of the prechristian Teutonic peoples of North Western Eruope".
Where in the lore are there any "spiritual and energetic principles", what does it even mean?

"Polytheism is the natural way for us to live and the natural way for us to interact with our environment".
"Within polytheism you have all kinds of safeguards, you have a shamanic understanding of our connection to the universe, you have a understanding that the gods are inside of us, that we are devine, that human beings can become gods (...)". (http://thunderwizard.podbean.com/2011/01/25/barbarians/)

No examples from texts, archeology, or modern research to support these statements of polytheism or that these ideas should have been part of the culture and mindset of the people of Ironage Northern Europe...

It might be modern, but it still twists facts (or UPG presented as facts) to justify itself.

It is correct that he often state that it is his view, however, when he claims to present "some more historical facts concerning the teutonic race" a good deal of it is debatable, full of holes, or incorrect.

I agree that I reacted mostly on the tags when I said he lable his material a asatru, however, newcomers will still find him due to the tags.

I am a recon heathen, but his material would still annoy the hell out of the little historian in me if I wasn´t... Incorrect or insuffient facts with no sources cited to validate them always will.

Niels K.
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« Reply #14: April 26, 2011, 11:53:26 am »

First off, loving this discussion. Smiley Mark C. and Juniperberry, you guys rock.

Why thank you! Grin

I've enjoyed this too and Juniperberry's way of putting things had me smiling and laughing in a "yeah that's bang on!" kind of way. Awesome analogies that really struck a cord with me!
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