Open Halls is Shutting Down

Husband and wife, Josh and Cat Heath, who have long been the operating force and co-directors behind the Open Halls Project have announced that they are shutting down. For those unfamiliar with the Open Halls Project, Josh Heath was on active duty in the US Army from 2006 to 2011 (deployed 2008-2009 In Operation Iraqi Freedom). He saw a need and decided to act upon it. He wanted to make it easier for military heathens to find heathens wherever they might be posted, both civilians and other active duty or veteran military heathens. That included penpals, care packages, connecting heathen clergy, kindreds and other believers. It evolved into making resources for military chaplains available. It had been an over decade fight by others (including the Heaths) to get pagan and heathen symbols approved for veteran tombstones. There was a national rally on the Washington mall in DC on July 4, 2007 towards this end. The pentagram was added in 2007, and the mjollnir added in 2013. (You can view the symbols at the official Veteran’s Affairs emblem database).


The Heaths decided that they wanted to tackle getting the religion added to the US Army. On June 16, 2011 they put the call out seeking US Army soldiers (past and present) who identify as asatru or heathen, as they were working with other organizations to get heathen/asatru added to the religious preference list for the US Army.

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The Holy Tides – Hlæfmæsse and Freyfaxi

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When it comes to religious, pagan celebrations most people are familiar with the eight holy days or sabbats that comprise the Wheel of the Year, such as Lugnasadh. In the Northern Tradition, we do not call these celebrations sabbats. Instead, based on words (like the Old Norse hátíðir) used to describe the most holy of these celebrations (like Yule) as high tides, we tend to call the various religious celebrations we recognize today as holy tides (since not all of the holy tides are considered high tides).

Since we practitioners of the Northern Tradition are dealing with a general umbrella culture that existed in vast plurality we look to ancient Germanic, Scandinavian (Norse, Icelandic, Swedish, Danish, etc.) and Anglo-Saxon sources. It is important to understand that these ancient cultures reckoned time in different ways in comparison to one another or to the modern world. They existed in different latitudes, lived amongst different types of geography with unique climate conditions that affected the local agricultural cycle. This means that sometimes the timing between when one group would celebrate and another would celebrate a similar type of holy tide could be several weeks apart.

Sometimes we can see an obvious and clear link between these cousin cultures to a specific holy tide like Yule, in other cases things are a bit less clear, or the celebrations of the different groups can sometimes seem vastly different even when they have a similar root, or some celebrations may be unique and not echoed in extant sources elsewhere.

Hlæfmæsse translates in our modern English tongue to Loaf-Mass, and is sometimes also called Lammas, we have numerous instances in Anglo-Saxon literature that talk about this particular Christianized celebration and some of the traditions attached to it. Since mass denotes a Christian ritual, some have theorized that the pre-Christian name for this holy tide may have been Hlæfmæst (feast of loaves), and for this reason some Heathens will use this name instead. That theory may not be far off reality. The ninth century text, Old English Martyrology, refers to August 1st as the day of hlæfsenunga, which translates to ‘blessing of bread’.

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Interviewed in The Wild Hunt’s story – No Hate in Texas group continues to protest and speak out

The Wild Hunt came to the June 26, 2022 protest of Stedfast, my not so friendly neighborhood cult that wants so many people to be dead. The Wild Hunt covered the effort of the group I am in No Hate in Texas. I knew ahead of time I was going to be interviewed, so I represented as an ally in my rainbow attire, my mjollnir (Thor’s Hammer) a symbol both of my heathen faith but also a symbol of protection against foes, and my gallehus horn replica pin. Because when we speak in ritual over the sacred horn or cup, our words fall into the well of wyrd, and our words have power to shift outcomes for good or for ill. So, such words need to embody both troth and frith. It was a quiet nod of the seriousness I take to my words in that moment, but also that speaking out even if not in ritual, is still a powerful and important thing. Hate is a virus, it spreads if people won’t take a stand against it. ✊️

That news story was released on July 3, 2022 by The Wild Hunt with both a print and a video component.

Sigdrifa’s Prayer Bookmarks

In honor of Memorial Day weekend, and in appreciation to those that serve in the armed forces, I am offering once again free Sigdrifa’s Prayer bookmarks. The Prayer is a rare remnant in our lore, as it’s the only non-Christianized, complete prayer that we have from the historical sources. In it’s short simplicity, the prayer found in the Sigdrifumal is a microcosm of the vast macrocosm of Heathen cosmology.

Eligibility

  • Pagan, Polytheist or Heathen (Asatru, Northern Tradition, etc.)
  • Be a veteran or active duty member of the military (any branch)
  • Have a US mailing address (military APO/FPO addresses count)

To request follow the link.

Murderers Don’t Go to Valhalla

In the wake of the tragic mass shooting at the Tops Market grocery store in Buffalo, New York on May 14, 2022 we have been learning more about the murdering criminal who had perpetrated the attack. He was wearing a sonnenrad (a swastika related symbol), the assault rifle and shotgun were adorned with the Othala rune, and the shotgun also featured a Celtic Cross (which is a variation of our solar cross symbol). He also had references on his assault rifle to five other mass shooters (who I am choosing not to name) behind the following attacks: 2011 Norwegian attacks in Oslo and Utøya, 2011 Tree of life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the 2015 Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the 2019 Chabad Congregation in Poway, and the 2019 Christchurch attack.

He signed off his manifesto with the words “Goodbye, God bless you all and I hope to see you in Valhalla.” Compare it to the manifesto from the shooter behind the 2019 Christchurch attack and there’s lots of similarities (basically plagiarized with slight rewordings) including the sign off “Goodbye, god bless you all and I will see you in Valhalla.”

I’d like to say something for the hate spouting extremists in the back. Murderers don’t go to Valhalla. In fact in our lore we know murderers go somewhere else entirely. In Gylfaginning we are told by Odin (in his guise of Þriði) that those who commit evil go to Nifolhel (Misty Hel). In another section of Gylfaginning, and supported also in Völuspá, we learn that within Nifolhel we have Nástrǫnd (Corpse Shore), and that is where oathbreakers and murderers go in the afterlife. Nástrǫnd is home to the serpent Níðhöggr (Malice Striker) who gnaws for eternity on the corpses of murderers and oathbreakers that have been condemned to the serpent’s hall. We think that Nástrǫnd may correlate to the Old English Wyrmsele, which means serpent hall, it appears in the poem Judith found in the Nowell Codex (which is the manuscript source for Beowulf).

The heathen afterlife is first and foremost Hel. Hel, is more than just a name. Her name literally is not only the realm of the dead, but etymologically is the very earth where the dead are buried and reside, from the great cairns and graveyards. To speak of Hel is to speak of both the Goddess, Her realm, and all those who dwell there. Sooner or later we will traverse those halls, because as the Havamal states, “cattle die and kinsmen die” because the most fundamental truth of life is that sooner or later we die. From the sources we know that there were certain places or deities within the afterlife of Hel that played host to the dead: Odin’s Valhalla, Thor’s Bilskirnir within Valhalla, Freya’s Sessrumnir, the hall of Vingolf (mentioned three times: once connected to Odin, once to the Goddesses, and once just generally as a place for the dead), Gimlé where the just go, and then we know that the Goddesses Ran and Gefjon also play host to specific types of the dead (respectively those who died at sea and maidens).

One of the commonly misrepresented beliefs of our afterlife is that the end goal is for us all to go to Valhalla, it isn’t. Valhalla is specifically intended for a select few, and only for those that Odin thinks has the right skillset to his warrior purposes and thus chooses. Killing in self defense, or killing in the course of war is one thing. Gunning down a bunch of innocent people in a grocery store makes you only one thing: a murderer, a nīðing (nithling) which is one of the worst labels given to a person, as it means the person has no honor and is a villain.

This gunman doesn’t represent my religion nor my beliefs. In fact both he and the Q-Anon Shaman from the January 6, 2021 Insurrection in Washington DC use the singular Christian god in messaging, but combine it with some of our religion’s sacred symbols and places. This is sadly yet another despicable real world example of what should be sacred being profaned for the purposes of hate. Let me be clear, in the Northern Tradition these are the races that exist: the Giants, the Gods, the Dwarves, the Disir, the Alfar, other vaettir of land and sea, and the human race. That’s it. If you look at our creation story we see that as the Gods create the first people, Odin breathed life into them, Vili granted them intelligence, and Ve gave them their senses so they could see and hear. So whether an individual or any other cultural or religious group believes that or not, if someone believes and worships Odin then to my mind you should believe he is the All-Father of humanity, not the Father of only some.

You would think after decades of being a Heathen and seeing white supremacists pervert the sacred, I’d be used to this. But I’m not. I’m furious. Each time we’re here I’m just as outraged as the last time. So I had to do something, in this case I made a meme. Yes, it is but a small act, but maybe if we can educate there’d be fewer people misusing Valhalla. If we can burst the fantasy bubble around Valhalla, maybe we can start to dismantle part of the appeal in how white supremacists who don’t even worship our Gods use it to galvanize others to hate. Share it, spread it. Let’s make this go viral.

Murderers don't go to Valhalla. 
Valhalla is but one place in the heathen afterlife. It is specifically intended for a select few, and only for those that Odin chooses because he thinks they have the right skillset 
to his purposes. In Gylfaginning, Odin tells us that those who commit evil go to Niflhel, 
and we learn that oathbreakers and murderers go to Nastrond, where the serpent 
Nidhogg gnaws on them for eternity, for they are nithlings lacking in honor. 
Murderers Don’t Go To Valhalla

Pope Apologizes for Native Schools

I had heard of the residential/mission schools (example: Carlisle Indian School), where Indigenous children were removed from their families & communities and sent to boarding schools to strip them of their language and culture. I never knew that the Church had done something similar to the children of conquered Saxon Heathens in the 9th Century.

Gangleri's Grove

Part of me sarcastically wants to say “a day late and a dollar short” but acknowledging that these schools were places of torture, abuse, and genocide, and taking public responsibility for that, tendering the apology is a good thing, potentially a healing thing. I probably shouldn’t be so sarcastic. Here’s the link.

Now, let’s see him apologize for the destruction, erasure, and genocide his Church caused to Pagans and Polytheists and their families, cultures, and communities across Europe from oh, I don’t know, the fifth through the fourteenth centuries? I’m not holding my breath. You see, we aren’t visible enough, there aren’t enough of us yet. The Church can still think it won. 

I bring this up not to equate pain with pain or genocide with genocide but to point out that historically, Christian imperium did not start in the 15thcentury with Columbus. They practiced for a…

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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.

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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.

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Helm of Awe Observed In BBC News Story

BBC News recently posted a story: Ukraine war: Belarusian dissidents fight against Russia in Ukraine. It spotlights Pavel Kulazhanka, who is a Belarusian dissident living in exile in New York. Now with other Belarusian dissidents, he is leaving to join the defense of Ukraine against the invading Russian forces.

screenshot from BBC news story, Camera Work by Francesco Tosto

I noticed he’s wearing a Ægishjálmr, (Helm of Awe / Helm of Terror) patch.

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Wild Hunt – Covers Stedfast Update

The Wild Hunt posted an update on the efforts of myself and others in the community group, No Hate In Hurst, in our efforts to combat a hate cult. An excerpt of the media mentions follows:

Last month, the SBC was served with an eviction notice for violating the tenets of their lease by using violent language that included encouraging suicide and physical harm. The posted notice required SBC to be moved out by noon on March 3, and it appears the organization complied with the order. Pastor Jonathan Shelley denied the charges but a video posted to YouTube that incorporated footage from his hearing as well as footage from some of his many sermons contradicts the pastor’s denial.

The Wild Hunt

Read the article in TWH’s Pagan Community Notes: Week of March 14, 2022