Idunna – Norse Goddess of the Apples

While it may not feel like autumn yet in Texas, I always in particular venerate Idunna, an ásynjur (one of the Norse Goddesses). Her most well known story involves her abduction by a giant, which causes the gods to age thus revealing her important ties to vitality. Idunna is known within Skáldskaparmál as the Gods’ Lady, and indeed this is because the vitality (and therefore immortality) she provides is gifted to all of the Gods and Goddesses. While she is part of my regular praxis throughout the year, I always feel her most strongly in autumn through the winter. I decided to do an exploration into her heiti and kennings. There’s a lot to unpack here, and I feel like there’s much more that I’ll be musing upon for a long time to come too.

Continue reading “Idunna – Norse Goddess of the Apples”

Cultic Worship to Loki

Did you know we have possible evidence of cultic worship to Loki from antiquity?

Al-Tartuschi (also known as Ibrahim ibn Yaqub) hailed from the Cordoba Caliphate (specifically the Al-Andalus area from the Iberian peninsula), and wrote of his travels abroad in Europe in 961 – 962 CE.  He records seeing worship connected to the Sirius star in Hedeby, Denmark. The population size is estimated to have been around 1500-2000 people. Hedeby of the time was a commercial center populated by a range of groups: Danes, Frisians, Franks, Germans, Swedes, and Slavs. So that suggests to me the possibility for a much wider dispersion of the practice outside of Hedeby.

Continue reading “Cultic Worship to Loki”

Exploring Our Gods & Goddesses: Sinthgunt [Revised & Expanded]

Our only (specific) surviving reference to the Goddess Sinthgunt comes from the Old High German Second Merseburg Incantation (also known as the “Horse Cure Charm”), which dates to around the 9th or 10th Century. The Merseburg charms are the only examples of pre-Christian Germanic belief recorded in the Germanic language.

sinthgunt_small
Not for Commercial Use 
Continue reading “Exploring Our Gods & Goddesses: Sinthgunt [Revised & Expanded]”

Could Jormungand Be Connected to the Milky Way?

In the Norse myths, Jormungand is known to be the son of Loki and Angurboda. He takes the form of a giant serpent. Tossed into the ocean, he eventually grows so big he outgrows the water and encircles the world. He currently bites his tail, but during Ragnarok he is predicted to release his tail as calamity follows.

The Milky Way


This, combined with the fact I spend lots of time in astronomy apps and observing our night skies, has made me wonder if he might just be meant to tie to the visible sight of the milky way in our night skies. Just as the earth we live on (Midgard) rotates daily, and then annually around our sun, our solar system in turn is in motion spinning around our galaxy of the milky way. Every star visible in the night sky is an object that resides within our galaxy. Most of the objects in our spiral galaxy appear like a disc in what is often referred to as the galactic plane.

Continue reading “Could Jormungand Be Connected to the Milky Way?”

The Healing Gods of the Ribe Skull Fragment

I updated my older article, The Healing Gods and Goddesses of the Northern Tradition with information about the Ribe Skull Fragment, an interesting find from the archaeological record which contains a runic inscription invoking Gods for healing including Odin, and what appears to be his father Borr, the god Tyr, and Ulfr (which means wolf and may possibly be Fenrir). You can read up on the skull fragment and some interesting research, and some of m own thoughts about this archaeological remnant at the link.

Names, Epithets, and ‘Lame’ Gods

When you think of how history, especially forms of monotheism have tried to erase and destroy information about polytheistic traditions, I am always flabbergasted when I come across members of our communities trying to help in that destruction.

There’s a tendency in the interfaith community and some parts of the pagan community to use vague terms in prayers, offerings, or when talking about our sacred powers: Oh Spirit, Great Lady, Oh Goddess.

The spread of Christianity focused on stripping our Gods and Goddesses of their names to destroy their identities. Their idols were destroyed or defaced, their holy shrines left in ruins, their worshippers killed, oppressed, and sometimes even enslaved. We know in some ancient cultures denying someone their name was to curse and destroy them. We see this often in the archaeological record in Egypt as just one example. That is what Christianity wants, to take their names, to obfuscate, to destroy so only their God is left.

And now there’s portions of the at large pagan and polytheistic community who are trying to take away the names and identifiers of those Gods too. In this specific case, the blacksmith god Hephaestus, and his epithet Κυλλοποδιων ( lame/of the crooked-foot) out of a misguided push for political correctness and social justice.

To quote Krasskova, “I’m seeing nonsense like, “you can only use this epithet for Hephaestus if you yourself are mobility impaired.” Well, wrong. Anyone may use it whenever that person wishes to connect to Him and gain deeper understanding of His power. That’s what this epithet is about: His power. You do not have to be mobility impaired to call Him by this name.”



The name Κυλλοποδιων (lame/of the crooked-foot) is not only an epithet, it was a career marker. Many cultures depict blacksmith Gods as being lamed, disabled, handicapped, or even physically malformed in their legs in some way, and that’s because Their depiction imitated the real-life occupational hazards of the craft. In antiquity blacksmiths used arsenic in part of the process to make bronze, as a result many blacksmiths suffered from lameness and cancer caused by the continual exposure to the arsenic. So Hephaestus of the lamed and crooked foot, is an occupational marker. In my own tradition, I have the blacksmith god Weyland/Volund, and he is also depicted as having been lamed after surviving an ordeal.

Blacksmiths represented the luck, fortune, and self-reliance of a community. The weapons the blacksmith made defended the home, supported daily aspects of everyday domesticity (cooking, sewing, dinnerware, utensils, etc.), and also helped make the very tools used in agricultural aspects of life: from working the fields, to contending with the livestock. Having a blacksmith in your community meant not only wealth, but that your community was not vulnerable to being preyed upon by others who may literally steal your fortune, or who figuratively would steal your fortune in charging outrageous sums/barters for what you needed. For these reasons, blacksmiths granted a community both fortune and a certain level of independence as well.

Blacksmiths have to be masters of all the elements. Obviously metal ore is used to craft the tools of his trade, but other elements of the earth from clay, to sand, to dirt, and various minerals are also sometimes used. Fire is an element used to heat and anneal the components so that they can be shaped. Air must be used to both control the flames and heat, but also used to air cool and quench certain items during the annealing process that you can’t afford to use the more rapid method of water-quenching on. If we look to the natural world, these processes are essentially at a geothermic scale the very elements that drive plate tectonics.

Take a moment to really THINK about that REAL imagery of a lamed blacksmith God, and the portents of that symbolism. That to commit to one’s craft is to sacrifice, that power has a price. In their story we can see and relate to Gods, realizing they are not disconnected from us but are capable of understanding the suffering of mere mortals too. Think of the power that comes from one who has overcome such great obstacles, that understands the stakes, the risks of bondage, of being subjected to degradation and abuse, and now they take their skill and their determination as one who has overcome to focus all of their skill and craft into the weapons and armor to the heroes who must now go tackle monumental tasks to save others. Those who know not only their own worth, but the value of their craft as well.

To strip them of their titles, and descriptors, their by names and praise names, the epithets, the kennings, the heiti is how you lose the stories of them. How you lose the most powerful bits of lore, biographical details, the most potent symbols we latch onto.  Of course, all things that monotheism will cheer for: Yes, pagans please do go ahead and destroy and forget why these Gods were worshipped in the first place.

These terms and phrasing were long used by the cultures where these Gods and Goddesses originate in deep antiquity. They are recorded in prayers, some carved into stone, others in manuscripts and scrolls. All these epithets were part of the very cultus that worshipped those Gods. These epithets were descriptors, encapsulations of cultus and lore. They weren’t derogatory or degrading in nature.


Take away the descriptors, and suddenly the Gods start to lose their uniqueness, their distinctiveness.  

  • One-Eyed God (Odin)
  • The Hanged One (Odin)
  • The One Handed As (Tyr)
  • The Cargo of Her Arms (Loki)
  • Ruler of Lions (Sekhmet)

Each epithet encapsulates a story, sometimes the story is lost to us and all that remains is that descriptor and now you have people wanting to erase that too.

Words have power, meaning and nuance. We know in many instances the words and the meaning of a deity’s name helps to show that power too. In some cases all we have left is their name because Christianity so destroyed everything else. When you lump sum deities as a vague unspecified group, you say they aren’t worthy of learning more about their individual uniqueness. You are saying, even unconsciously, that they are less than. When you take away their identifiers, which are encapsulations of their power, you are only helping to undermine the tradition, pissing on all those who died because of their beliefs in worship to those Gods, both then and today.

If you’re concerned about making sure your religious path is welcoming to those with disabilities, then yes push for equal access for mobility challenged and disabled individuals at rites, and holy sites and temples. (Did you know, that while not conclusive, there is evidence suggestive that the ancient Greeks had ramps to try to help with mobility access to at least some religious sites). If there are others who are degrading or mocking those in your midst, yes call them out. But trying to find degradation in something that was venerated, something that is part of the identity of a God and their tradition of cultus is just destructive to the religious tradition and cultus, and not helpful. Can you imagine if suddenly all Christians decided to completely ignore the crucifiction and the lead up moments (known to some as the stations of the cross) because it was perceived as glorying in tortue, degradation and physical abuse? Suddenly the cross as a symbol is gone, no more artistic depictions of Christ on the cross, or even with the wounds in his hands (which technically would be in his forearms above his wrists) no one talks about it anymore cause it’s not perceived as appropriate. It’s ridiculous. It’s such an underlying aspect of the Christian faith. Trying to take this epithet from Hephaestus is equally absurd.

The Healing Gods and Goddesses of the Northern Tradition

As a gythia (priestess), one of the questions I am asked the most is what deity would be good to pray to for ‘X’. In times of crisis, I field a great many more of these sorts of questions. Currently with the global pandemic of Covid-19, I thought it would be a good idea to spotlight all the deities (and there’s more than a dozen!) who are known to have ties to healing in the Northern Tradition (those cultures from ancient Germania, Scandinavia and Anglo-Saxon England with a common worship to Odin/Woden).

NT_goddesses_healing3

 

Continue reading “The Healing Gods and Goddesses of the Northern Tradition”

🐍🐉🐍 The Snakes in the Grass – Saint Patrick, the Pagans, & the God Crom Cruach 🐍🐉🐍

I do not celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, which is a day of holy obligation for Catholics in Ireland (as well as revered by a few other Christian denominations). Why would I, a heathen, celebrate a 5th Century Saint whose mission in life was to turn pagans from their Gods and ancestral ways? If he lived today he’d be trying to convert me away from the Gods of my life as well.

For those with Irish ancestry who take this day to celebrate their ancestry, that is all to the good. But remember there is a difference between a drunken revelry of green beer, and the celebration of a vast rich culture. There is a difference in remembering your ancestors and laying out offerings, telling their stories, and hailing their names versus urinating on the sidewalk because you’re behaving as a drunken fool.

Of course, I’ve always found it ironic that a man who was born in Roman Britain, has become the representative icon for Ireland.

While there are many stories about Saint Patrick, the tale of him driving out the snakes is the most wide known. Of course it’s also clearly historically impossible as snakes haven’t inhabited Ireland since the last Ice Age concluded more than 10,000 years ago, which is before Patrick was even born. It’s a bit ridiculous to think he drove out animals that weren’t even there. But not only did this story appear very late (centuries after his death), there’s also a belief in some corners that the story was allegorical, and the snakes were symbolical representations for the ancient pagans/polytheists.

Continue reading “🐍🐉🐍 The Snakes in the Grass – Saint Patrick, the Pagans, & the God Crom Cruach 🐍🐉🐍”

🐣 Ostara: The Goddess & The High Holy Tide 🐣

For those of us in the Northern Tradition (which encompasses the peoples with a common worship to Odin), the high holy tide of Ostara/Eostre is upon us. Some are gearing up to celebrate during the astronomical spring equinox (which varies slightly but always occurs between March 19-21), some may wait for the signs of spring in their local area, and others may postpone their celebrations so that they coincide more with the observed Christian date of Easter instead, which for 2019 occurs on April 21th. The later allows heathen children to be able to participate in more mainstream activities such as egg hunts with their peers at school and at community parks.

Ostara-nichol_skaggs
Ostara by Nichol Skaggs (nicholskaggs.com)

Continue reading “🐣 Ostara: The Goddess & The High Holy Tide 🐣”