[Today’s column comes to us from Luke Babb. Luke Babb is a storyteller and eclectic polytheist who primarily works with the Norse and Hellenic pantheons. They live in Chicago with their wife and a small jungle of houseplants, where they are studying magic and community building – sometimes even on purpose.]
The old man likes to corner me. I worked for a while in high end kitchen retail – the sort of small business that can only exist in big cities, where the wealthy come to buy designer pots and “give back to the community.” One of those stores that really wants customers to access those ancestral memories of the general store they saw on Anne of Green Gables as a kid. Playing into that hometown feel, once a year this store participates in a neighborhood street festival and sells something that is only available on that weekend – apple pies.
For three days beginning on July 13, Atlanta hosted Mystic South: Theory, Practice, and Play. According to the convention’s Facebook page, the Pagan event “highlights the Southern flair and mystic spirit of our own part of the country.”
Headliners this year included John Beckett, Ivo Dominguez, Yaya Nsasi Vence Guerra, Sangoma Oludoye, Mama Gina, and the Night Travelers. The conference schedule included rituals, workshops, papers, panels, presentations, and a live podcast. Several events centered on Norse material and Heathen religions. To get a sense of the conference from a Heathen perspective, I spoke with Ryan Denison of the Mystic South organizing committee.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Odin, Freya and Loki must be jealous. In the new “Gods of the Vikings” exhibit in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot in Disney World, it was the slightly larger-than-life bust of Thor – especially the Norse god’s hammer, Mjolnir – that was getting the most photo-opp attention during a visit by The Wild Hunt. People young and old, and speaking numerous foreign languages, clutched the imposing, 18-inch Mjolnir as friends or family took photos – perhaps an indication of how the Marvel Comics movie franchise has made Thor a rock star beyond the community of practicing Heathens and followers of Ásatrú. Five feet from the Thor bust, however, was another Mjolnir, one less than an inch and a half long: an authentic Thor’s hammer pendant, made circa 800-1000 A.D. The artifact is on loan to the exhibit from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway.
Paganism is not a “religion of the book,” but it is a religion of many books. Here’s a look at some recent releases of interest to Pagans, Polytheists and Heathens: a Scandinavian’s travels in esoteric India, a young adult novel inspired by Yoruba religion, an examination of Odin’s influence in modern times, and a tree herbal. Journeys in the Kali Yuga: a Pilgrimage from Esoteric India to Pagan Europe
Aki Cederberg, Destiny Books, December 2017, 172 p.
In the introduction to this spiritual travelogue, Finland native Aki Cederberg writes that “as far back as I can remember, I have been drawn to and felt a strong resonance with certain sights, symbols, and signs, not exactly knowing why. Some of these have been found in the waking world, while others have revealed themselves in visions and dreams . .
[Every month, we feature new writers with various backgrounds and traditions, who share their perspectives and add their insights to the larger conversation in the community. If you like this feature, consider making a small monthly donation or make a one-time donation toward this vital global community venture. It is your help and your support that keeps daily and dependable news coming to your doorstep each day from wherever its origin.]
Some years ago, while attending a Heathen festival at the Gaea Retreat outside of Kansas City, I heard a man say a prayer to Thor. “Hail to the Thunderer, the working man’s god,” said the man, who fit the profile: tall and broad, bearded, his white skin tanned from days in the sun. I thought about that epithet for a long time, “the working man’s god.” It comes from the idea that in ancient times, gods like Odin served the powerful ruling class, while gods like Thor and Freyr were patrons of the commoners. I come from working people, from people whose jobs were to swing hammers, haul loads, dig holes, saw boards.