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End of Autumn

My study is on the second floor. My desk is set in front of a large window, so that when I “drift off” while writing I can look out and have a nice view. It’s mostly the tops of trees, but it’s my view and I kind of like it.

Today is a dreary, grey sort of day. There’s a bit of a breeze, too. I just watched a few golden leaves from a Norway maple flitter by deep, dark green Hemlocks. There won’t be many chances to see that again until next fall.

There I go again, using the change of seasons to inspire a pensive mood. The new book is out, which means, naturally, that I need to start on Book the Next. I have a few clues about what I want to write about, but it’s time to do some research to see if I can narrow it down. Maybe today is a research kind of day.


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My book is here!

“A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Asatru” arrived at my doorstep yesterday. The official release date is November 1, but it can be ordered via amazon.com now.

A book takes a long time to produce. There’s the germination of the idea, then the research. After that, the book goes into the draft process.

Then there’s the whole submission and publication bit, wich takes a lot of energy.

In short, I have been dealing with books, articles, web pages. I have spent an amazing amount of time typing into a word processor. I’ve talked to some amazing and supportive people who wanted to help me make this book happen. It’s been years, and while I knew this day would come, I was still surpirsed and excited to open that package and have my book spill out.

It even has that “new book” smell.

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Hello, everyone.

I thought I would blog today, and here I am. I also see that I have not blogged since May. Alas! Mea culpa, and man, have things been busy.

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Quick Note

As quick note for those of you who are reading along…

I am presenting a lecture and performing a ritual in honor to Freyja on Thursday, May 29, 2013. Location is Pandora’s Box, Norwich Connecticut. Fee, IIRC, is $20.

A person on FaceBook asked if I could share some notes afterward. This is a reminder that I said I would do so – and a heads’ up for my readers here. Notes! There will be notes!

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Just what is is about us, anyway?

Looking from the outside in, heathens seem to be a contentious, conservative, opinionated lot.  Outside observers are not sure just what to think, particularly if they’ve had no ‘real’ contact with heathens before.  We’re the up and coming thing, and we’re often viewed with suspicion and a sort of mild hostility.  Just who are these upstarts who aren’t even certain they’re pagan?

By and large?  We’re just like everybody else.

Heathens – it’s an umbrella term for many different practices – for the most part follow the gods and goddesses of Northern Europe.  Except, of course, those who follow the Anglo-Saxon deities.  Or the continental Germanic ones.  Heathens more or less follow recontructive practices – we work with mythology, sure, but also with the saga records, the histories, archeology, language studies – and use those source materials to determine the ‘how and why’ of what we do.  Some heathens are more heavily reconstructionist than others.  Heathens span the gamut between high and low ritual, need or no need for a priestly class, heirarchical or consensus-driven group formations, style and type of ritual, and whether or not to believe in, let alone practice, more occult methods within a heathen belief system.

Clear as mud?

The word siðu or sidr (Anglicized roughly as sidhu/sidhr) has been bandied about a lot lately.  It’s worth considering.  Cleasby-Vigfusson’s Old Icelandic Dictionary (http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kurisuto/germanic/oi_cleasbyvigfusson_about.html) defines the term as “custom, habit, manner.”  The word appears in a multitude of sources and in as many ways – heidinn sidr, for instance, refers directly to heathenism.  The implication seems to be one of variation – sidr varied from heathen to Christian, from Iceland to Norway, and even from farmstead to farmstead.  One way to look at this is to think: “It was the way in that area.”  In short, that’s how they did things in that particular place.  It wasn’t the One True and Only Way.  It was the way in that area.

When you look at it that way, we make a lot more sense.  We discuss – occasionally heatedly – just who and what we are, how we function, and what is coming next.  None of us expect to have any one answer.  It is often said that, if you ask a single question on a heathen e-list, you will receive on average four answers for every three people.  Far more than three will often respond.  We know that our focus is community-based, and most consider that community to be local/regional.  Some – those who agree that national organizations can be useful – will consider an organization as a whole as a community of a kind.  The key, as sidhu expresses, is that no one way is THE way.

This is why it is so difficulty to define just what heathenism is, except in the broadest terms.  Polytheist.  Animist (mostly).  Reconstructionist.  Northern European.  Our two major rituals are most often called blot (rhymes with boat) and sumble.  When we blot, how we blot, and how often sumble occurs …. well, sidhu, man.

I think that’s just what it is about us.  We’re a gaggle.  We have a beginning, and we have an end – we know what is, and is not, heathen – and keep them to varying degrees of sharpness.  We know who we are – most of the time.  We’re relatively “young” in terms of religion – we’re full of schisms right now, and it remains to be seen where we will all settle – and that’s about as much as we’re willing to cop to.  We’re also not just a religion.

Heathens have our own culture.  It varies, depending on who is reconstructing what, and from which sources, but it is distinctive.  It goes beyond religion – although religion is a part of what we do – and into specific beliefs about the world, specific moral and ethical considerations, and even works out how we interface with the rest of humanity, the divine, and the other.  We’re distinct.  Naturally, sidhu comes into play, and just how we view these things varies.  But we all agree – it’s a culture, not just a religion.

I guess this is a good enough starting point.  We are what we are.  We more or less know what that means, although we have trouble drawing hard lines in rock about it yet.  We understand that there are a number of variations within heathenry.  Is there a middle gound?  I think there is one, but that is the subject of another post.

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Sometimes I amuse myself.  I have spent the last nine days wondering just what I should blog about.

Heathen Things.  With Stuff In.  Right.

Where to start…where to start…

And this has occupied more than half my mind.


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A Practical Heathen's Guide to Asatru

Here’s what I’ve been up to. The new book, published by Llewellyn, will be available in November, 2013. Not so long now!

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