Quick Note: Norse Mythology and Heathen Ritual

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Just a couple quick notes for the Heathen-minded today.

If you aren’t already reading Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried’s amazing The Norse Mythology Blog, then you’ve been remiss. I first mentioned the blog back in June for its in-depth interview with Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, chief priest of Iceland’s Ásatrúarfélagið. The blog is one of the most content-rich affairs for lovers of Norse mythology I’ve ever seen, and two recent features, his answers on Norse myth and religion questions posed by a high school student, and a massive five-part (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5) interview with fantasy author M. D. Lachlan (author of “Wolfsangel” and “Fenrir”) that covers everything from literary influences to using the Wolfsangel symbol.

Modern-day Asatru in Iceland

Asatru in Iceland, photo by Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried

“You have said that, “in the Norse myths, the runes and the history of the Vikings we have a huge cultural treasure. We shouldn’t hand it over to morons without a fight.” No argument here. In the novel, however, you acknowledge the non-Viking origins of the symbol, writing that it is “not one of the twenty-four runes given by Odin.” When the witches first see the Wolfsangel, they have varied interpretations. Some see it as a thunderbolt, some as a werewolf. “Others,” though, “saw a different meaning in the rune, one that it would bear down the centuries until one day someone gave it a name. Wolfsangel. This was not a word the sisters would have recognized, though its sense was clear to them – wolf trap.” Did you choose this symbol because the book was originally intended – as you’ve said in interviews – to take place in WWII? Did you first plan to use it as a Nazi symbol, then reset it as a rune when moving the action back to the Viking age?”

The whole blog is a treasure, and has a clear archives page that will guide you to the important interviews and articles Dr. Seigfried has produced.

Meanwhile, here at Patheos, columnist Eric Scott writes about his experiences with a Seidhr ritual, and how it made him wonder if he could be a Heathen (in addition to being a second-generation Wiccan).

“I knew immediately that this appealed to me. I had known of the Norse myths since I was a child, of course, and had always felt fondly toward the gods of Asgard, but I had never experienced them so directly before. And yet I was, in a way, frightened: I had heard the heathens talking before the ceremony, and the way they talked, there would be no going back from this. They even signed contracts declaring that they would have no other gods before these, a declaration which, then and now, fills me with unease. I felt both at home and in a deeply foreign place. I was a Wiccan; I had just begun to discover just how important to my identity Wicca was. Did I want to be a heathen too? For that matter: could I even be both?”

It’s yet another thoughtful column from Scott, and no doubt there are Heathens out there with opinions as to whether one can be Heathen and Wiccan both, or if you must choose.