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Author Topic: Deity-Human Relationships in Heathenry  (Read 9425 times)
Juniperberry
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« Reply #15: June 20, 2011, 07:45:37 pm »

Thanks for moving this, Hyacinth!



In actuality, I feel the gods and Tao all around me. Sometimes something in particular will remind me of Thor or Sunna, etc. And then I take a moment to offer a little prayer to that god or do something special for them in the next few days. Not because I necessarily think whatever it was was a special message just for me by this particular god, but more like when a friend crosses your mind and you think "gee, I haven't talked to them in a while, I should pick up the phone to say hey and let them know I'm thinking of them." Sometimes it is a "message" in the sense that that friend is having something terrible going on in their life right now and you were just the person they needed to hear from. But usually it's nothing of the sort, and both of you are just happy to renew the relationship again and hear from each other.

My communication with the gods has nothing to do with me "trusting" or "trying." They are there; what happens happens. I am grateful and satisfied for what I receive from the gods, wights, ancestors, whoever. I feel spiritually fulfilled and perfectly happy not having a "close" relationship with the gods as some other Pagans do. And it took me a while to realize that that's perfectly ok. Heathenry does tend to approach relationships with the divine in a unique way, and it's something else that makes Heathenry a perfect fit for me.

Yes! I'm trying to be careful in the language that I use because I don't want to offend anyone that has a different vision of spirituality than myself but, my husband has often stated to me that he would be more interested in heathenry/paganism if it weren't for some of the hippy-ish, new-age, fluffy (my word, he has no idea of pagan vernacular, heh) aspects. I was talking to him about this thread when he said that and I explained that to me it's not really likr that. It's all summed up in the heathen concept of salvation: plenty of fish, good harvest and peace. That's all. There isn't a concept of transcending or growing as a person/soul or reaching Nirvana or anything. People honored the gods to be granted with good luck to accomplish those things. Maybe Freyr will help my crops if I offer him the best of my harvest(good harvest), maybe Odin will help us win this war ( peace), etc.  There wasn't a personal interaction in that the gods  directed someone to do something for their own good or to learn some life lesson, or to achieve eternal life. Even if I did perform a dramatic ritual to Ran at the seashore I wouldn't gain anything from it. By that I mean it wouldn't grant me her grace so that I could go to heaven, and it wouldn't help prepare my soul to reach greater spiritual heights in the afterlife. If I'm not offering her something beside a show of respect and honor then I'm not sure how interested they are in me.

I said this in another thread but it also applies here:  Tacitus wrote that the germanics didn't see their gods as people: "The Germans, however, do not consider it consistent with the grandeur of celestial beings to confine the gods within walls, or to liken them to the form of any human countenance. They consecrate woods and groves, and they apply the names of deities to the abstraction which they see only in spiritual worship."

Just being at the heach with the waves lapping and the tides moving means I'm having a personal interaction with Ran. There isn't necessarily a voice I'll hear or a meditation that I'll do that will make her materialize more. The gods are a force, a presence, the intangible spirit within our world. The lands and the groves and the things we consecrate are for us, not to place the gods somewhere. After many years and sacrifices the land has a history of worship that makes it sacred. It isn't sacred in itself because the gods are the forces and essences of life that move through the world. Odin is derived from fury and inspiration- he is that which is in the artistic genius furiously painting, or in the general who has a sense to move forward by night. Considering also that in the lore it states that the gods gave us breath and spirit. We just are in a world that just is. All of THIS is the Aesir and wights.
 



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« Reply #16: June 20, 2011, 07:55:01 pm »

That's why I was asking (I'm vaguely familiar with seidh, so I wasn't sure.), because I was confused by Mark's statement of, "No heathen would spend 10 hours a day in mediation or prayer when they could be spend the time with family, friends, perusing a passion, working hard on their studies or business, or simply relaxing." There are obviously people who are spirit-workers/shamans/etc in heathenry who devote their lives to their Work. And I absolutely 100% agree with you that not everyone is suited or meant to do it. I was just confused by the "no heathen" bit.

There's alot going on in this thread!

A priest in historical heathenry was like a judge. He protected the tribes honor and developed a standing of luck. He would lead community rituals and impose punishment on criminals. He might go 'under the cloak' to ponder deeply complex situations while allowing for inspiration from the gods and ancestors. But a preist wasn't devoted in the sense that I think you're using it. From how you're describing it (and this is just me, not a criticism of your post, really) I get the image of self-flagellating monks that take vows of celibabcy and sacrifice (devote) their lives to being in service.  Maybe I'm not as familiar with the history as I could be, but I don't recall seing this type of work in any of the accounts of history.
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« Reply #17: June 21, 2011, 07:12:41 am »

That's why I was asking (I'm vaguely familiar with seidh, so I wasn't sure.), because I was confused by Mark's statement of, "No heathen would spend 10 hours a day in mediation or prayer when they could be spend the time with family, friends, perusing a passion, working hard on their studies or business, or simply relaxing." There are obviously people who are spirit-workers/shamans/etc in heathenry who devote their lives to their Work. And I absolutely 100% agree with you that not everyone is suited or meant to do it. I was just confused by the "no heathen" bit.

Apologies for the use of a sweeping statement. I can understand the confusion that would cause. The point was that the majority of Heathens that I have came across are not the type to spend lots of time alone “communing with deities” when they could be actively living a life.

Some religions would admire a person for spending a long time shut away from the world mediating and praying. However, in general terms I find heathens hold those who actively achieve things in this world and who interact strongly with those around them in highest regard.

On a personal note, I would not spend any time with anyone saying they were a “heathen spirit worker” or similar. I fully respect their rights to do what they do, but it is not for me and would not be “heathenry” as I define it.

Worth noting that the Havamal (arguably the key poem in Heathenry) is very “worldly” and even advises “better no prayer than too big an offering”. It therefore strikes me as odd that someone who wanted to spend lots of time in prayer / meditation would be attracted to heathery? It strikes me as being "unheathen" and that is why I said “all”. There are some people who use the term who disagree with me though and you are right to call me on that. Each to their own, but it’s not for me.

Mark.
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« Reply #18: June 21, 2011, 06:23:51 pm »

I suppose in the context of priesthood, where one could serve several gods. Or perhaps just one. Or just being a... devotee of them (what comes to mind first is those who get thwapped on TC) and yet doesn't do any sort of spirit-work or anything like that. Or just a regular (er, for lack of a better word) relationship with a God thats fulfilling enough for you and Them, which doesn't have to involve spirit-work.

Does that make sense?  Undecided
No, not really. Smiley

Perhaps a better question would be what do you do in your worship (assuming you worship at all) or how you would describe your relationship with the gods? How do you "communicate" with the gods? What happens; how do you understand what they have to "say"? Would you classify what you do as an "intense" relationship," in the context the phrase has been discussed? If not, why not?
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"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #19: June 23, 2011, 08:34:19 pm »

There's alot going on in this thread!

A priest in historical heathenry was like a judge. He protected the tribes honor and developed a standing of luck. He would lead community rituals and impose punishment on criminals. He might go 'under the cloak' to ponder deeply complex situations while allowing for inspiration from the gods and ancestors. But a preist wasn't devoted in the sense that I think you're using it. From how you're describing it (and this is just me, not a criticism of your post, really) I get the image of self-flagellating monks that take vows of celibabcy and sacrifice (devote) their lives to being in service.  Maybe I'm not as familiar with the history as I could be, but I don't recall seing this type of work in any of the accounts of history.


Thanks for this. I had no idea really how priests were viewed in Northern traditions.

I have to agree that I would find it hard to see a priest in Northern Europe how you described, but then again I think they are rarity then and now (at least, that specific combination Smiley ) for other religions (like say, Catholicism).
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« Reply #20: June 23, 2011, 08:34:54 pm »


Thank you for clarifying. I understand your point now. Smiley
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« Reply #21: June 23, 2011, 08:56:47 pm »

No, not really. Smiley

Perhaps a better question would be what do you do in your worship (assuming you worship at all) or how you would describe your relationship with the gods? How do you "communicate" with the gods? What happens; how do you understand what they have to "say"? Would you classify what you do as an "intense" relationship," in the context the phrase has been discussed? If not, why not?

I suppose when I think of an "intense relationship", I think of someone who is able to touch God on a regular basis (not every day), and work within their sphere of influence most of the time. I don't think it's a case of "God is [my] life", however. I'd include spirit-workers, god-spouses, god-slaves, priests and priestesses, and devotees under "intense relationship", but I think that's just a couple of many ways to describe it.

Right now? I'd say I don't have a very intense relationship, but the possibility is there. I'm chronically lazy and keep putting off doing work (for example: setting aside time for meditation, doing and actually putting into practice alternate state techniques, doing my Feri studies) that would probably actually help me have a more intense relationship with particular Gods and/or spirits, because I've been really attracted (I hesitate to use the word "called" for myself, because I don't think I have) to that kind of spiritual intensity. (Right now I think They're just sitting there watching me and going, "Okay, well that's good and all, but what are you going to DO?". Cheesy) But I really do think it involves a lot of work, time, and commitment. I also think there needs to be some sort of natural inclination towards that kind of relationship.

I don't think a relationship that just involves giving offerings from time to time, seeing counsel from a god, and celebrate maybe a festival or two of theirs a year is any lesser than the ones described above. And I honestly can't answer why if someone tries really hard and puts everything into it and "nothing happens", because I have no idea. I'm only able to go off what I've read and what I've (very minorly) experienced. :/ I don't want to send across the message AT ALL that it's their fault for "not trying hard enough".
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« Reply #22: June 23, 2011, 09:06:02 pm »



I just totally realized I forgot to answer your communication question! Sorry!

Communication comes in three forms (as of now) for me: dreams (pretty rare, to the best of my knowledge this has only happened a couple times, and it usually boils down to giving offerings and acknowledging they They're there, or else it's incredibly vague), tarot (by myself, and I'm still a beginner so I think the messages don't always come out clear Cheesy), and oracles via other people. Of course it's up to me in the end to interpret everything, and I'm still working through that. I'll often verify what my "gut" is telling me with either tarot or asking someone else to do divination for me. (For example, I was unsure about the Brighid of the Stars thing, even though it matched up with a lot I was experiencing and a previous divination message. I contacted a friend of mine who did oracle work, and asked if I was on the right path with what was going on at TC at the time. I got back a "Yes, you're on the right path." Which was comforting to know.)

At this point I've had no conscious, waking direct communication with any God.
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« Reply #23: June 24, 2011, 08:01:40 pm »

I just totally realized I forgot to answer your communication question! Sorry!

Communication comes in three forms (as of now) for me: dreams (pretty rare, to the best of my knowledge this has only happened a couple times, and it usually boils down to giving offerings and acknowledging they They're there, or else it's incredibly vague), tarot (by myself, and I'm still a beginner so I think the messages don't always come out clear Cheesy), and oracles via other people.
Thanks for the replies. This reminds me I should pull out my runes! Tongue

Rambling: I think how heathens tend to interact with the gods is how a LOT of people interact with the gods. It seems to be pretty much how you interact with them, except perhaps for frequency. However, for heathens, this "casual," or "less intense," or what-have-you relationship is the purpose and the success of a relationship with the gods. For others who aren't heathen, it seems, there's a tendency to always look for more, always seeking closer communication or communion. But I don't feel the need for that, and when I've tried it it seemed false and unsuccessful. And I felt like I didn't need it, spiritually. I appreciate that heathenry is accepting of the type of human-god interaction that feels most natural to me.
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"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #24: June 25, 2011, 02:06:22 am »

Thanks for the replies. This reminds me I should pull out my runes! Tongue

Rambling: I think how heathens tend to interact with the gods is how a LOT of people interact with the gods. It seems to be pretty much how you interact with them, except perhaps for frequency. However, for heathens, this "casual," or "less intense," or what-have-you relationship is the purpose and the success of a relationship with the gods. For others who aren't heathen, it seems, there's a tendency to always look for more, always seeking closer communication or communion. But I don't feel the need for that, and when I've tried it it seemed false and unsuccessful. And I felt like I didn't need it, spiritually. I appreciate that heathenry is accepting of the type of human-god interaction that feels most natural to me.

I agree with you, Hyacinth. The only thing is that I feel "casual" is a poor descriptive of the relationship. There is definitely a level of respect and honor, or there should be, I feel. Maybe "stark" would be a better term since there aren't many theatrical rituals. I'm almost positive that Grimm mentioned Christians adding all the bells and whistles to impress the northern tribes and convince the church solemnity.
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« Reply #25: June 27, 2011, 10:47:36 am »

Just being at the heach with the waves lapping and the tides moving means I'm having a personal interaction with Ran. There isn't necessarily a voice I'll hear or a meditation that I'll do that will make her materialize more. The gods are a force, a presence, the intangible spirit within our world. The lands and the groves and the things we consecrate are for us, not to place the gods somewhere. After many years and sacrifices the land has a history of worship that makes it sacred. It isn't sacred in itself because the gods are the forces and essences of life that move through the world. Odin is derived from fury and inspiration- he is that which is in the artistic genius furiously painting, or in the general who has a sense to move forward by night. Considering also that in the lore it states that the gods gave us breath and spirit. We just are in a world that just is. All of THIS is the Aesir and wights.

Missed this before, but it's freeking awesome! Love the sentiment and how it is expressed  Grin
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« Reply #26: June 28, 2011, 08:02:07 pm »

Juniper states she didn't think this was "worthy" of a new topic, but I heartily think it IS worthy, so I have made it a new topic. The original topic of the "Best Part of Heathenry / Asatru," may be accessed by clicking the quote link of her response here.

~ Hyacinth Belle, SIG Moderator


I'm not sure if this is the right thread to post this in, but it didn't seem worthy of a new topic.

Lokabrenna posted a question about intimate relationships in religion (deity lovers, spouses, etc) and I know there's a subset of 'heathens' that practice spiritual sex with the gods. I've been thinking on it for awhile ( outside of the context of her original question) and then also mulling over the fact that people claim that some of the "spiritual" is lost in heathenry and that it can be dry and impersonal.  

I realized that I'm not really seeking out the spiritual and that might be one of the reasons why I remained with heathenry and enjoy it so much. I think there's a knee-jerk reaction in the pagan community to prove how spiritual your path can be and I realized it's ok to reply to those criticisms with the answer that you aren't going for the spiritual and enlightening.

Personally, I don't want a strong connection with the gods. I'm not actively avoiding it, it's just not on my list of priorities. And in heathenry this works well as - per my understanding- the gods aren't really interested in my personal salvation or enlightenment, either. I don't want to hear Odin, or have a meditation with Holda, or get a visit from Freyja. Not that I'm against it, it's just not on my radar. I simply want a framework for how I view the world. I want a belief that someone, somewhere, is out there in control as a higher power and I'm very comfortable recognizing the Aesir as that. I'm big on ancestor veneration moreso than deity worship and the gods seem to prefer it that way, anyways. I trust those I know who have passed on, I know them and I can hope that they look out for me and they are who I call to and feel in the beyond...and I know that the gods are there somewhere as well but they aren't the ones I hope to return to and I don't necessarily think we return to a godly abode anyways.

So, that's another thing I love about heathenry. I can be heathen and be satisifed with it even though I'm not a 'spiritual' person or someone that is looking for an intimate or close relationship with the gods. I can be an observer and participant in midgard by just being mundane.

I used to have close contact with god when I was a christian, but not really as a pagan, outside of dreams.
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« Reply #27: June 28, 2011, 08:08:53 pm »

I agree with you, Hyacinth. The only thing is that I feel "casual" is a poor descriptive of the relationship. There is definitely a level of respect and honor, or there should be, I feel. Maybe "stark" would be a better term since there aren't many theatrical rituals. I'm almost positive that Grimm mentioned Christians adding all the bells and whistles to impress the northern tribes and convince the church solemnity.

Thirding not liking the "casual" term. It really doesn't accurately portray the opposite of "intense", because the opposite still involves honour, respect, reverence, that sort of thing. But it's not.. just something done on a whim.
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