by Hæðni Norn.
I haven’t always followed this path. for many years I followed a Wiccan path. I immersed myself in books about the Wiccan and Druid ways. I never understood why as much as I had learnt, I always felt like an outsider looking in. None of the practices or spells ever really worked for me, and the more I pushed the more this invisible force field pushed back. It was only when I landed on the Hávamál did things finally start to make sense.
The Hávamál is a series of 163-165 stanzas (depending on the translation source) offering an all-round insight into being a Heathen. From Odin’s exploits, to how to treat travelling guests, there are stanzas about love, strength, intelligence and kindness. So as I read this, deciphering the poor translations and old-time wording, something within me changed. I felt renewed, reborn, and I knew this was the way forward for me.
My day to day life is no different than most. For most of my life to look at me, you would have no idea I was “red-pilled”. I love jeans, look stunning in a suit, love Disney and glitter and have nearly always had neutral makeup. That wasn’t intended rather just the nature of the work I did. More recently I have begun to love alternative clothing, opting for black over pink, leather over jeans. But this is a natural progression of both age and my immersion into the faith.
As an eclectic norse pagan with Seiðr intent, and a devout follower of Freyja and Loki (say that five times fast after a few meads) I try to live by a strict code of conduct, one not at all unusual for a Heathen. I’d like to share some of these with you today.
This occurs within my company (Barbarian Butterfly). I make everything from soaps, jewellery, meditative and ritual tools and clothing. Our tastes change daily, and that works for us as we regularly delve into newfound talents and nurture old ones.
Always keep my promises
I despise lying, and I despise broken promises. To many Heathens, words are sacred. They hold great power and great responsibility. If I make a promise I will always do my utmost to keep it, be that to my partner, children, friends, customers or complete strangers. If I can’t uphold it, it will always be for good reason and I will always tell you. Now, I grant that at times I am forgetful so some promises are delayed, but I always get there in the end.
This one is certainly easier said than done in today’s society, but I do really try. There is my favourite and arguably the most famous Stanza in the Hávamál that reads;
This roughly translates to;
It tells us to live as we want to be remembered. If all I leave behind on this earth is a single image of when I was on it, I want that to be a kind and compassionate person. Although each action we take may seem small and insignificant, like a brushstroke on canvas they all add up to that bigger picture. Although I am far from perfect, I try to be the best I can, and I hope only that when I leave this plain into the next I am remembered for that.
Seiðr is a practice almost lost to time, with some practices demonised by early Christian practices and followers. It is well documented that Freyja was a Seiðr practitioner, and so was Odin though his quest to learn the art was much more painful. Seiðr is about connecting with the Nornir and reading the threads of fate. Although most of the practice is lost to the past, the most important thing we know is that Freyja gifted the women of Midgard (earth) a simple Seiðr ability; intuition. I listen to my gut above all else, and since it has taught me how to read the truth of people. Sometimes I fear that is to my detriment, as it takes a lot for me to truly trust a person, but I would much rather be surrounded by few true friends than flocked by fakes. Find out much more about Seiðr here.
My devotion to Freyja was always on the cards, long before I knew it. Freyja is a member of the Vanir and the Lady of the fields at Fólkvangar. She’s the Goddess associated with love, war, beauty, fertility and of course; Seiðr. Some historians have connected her with the Greek goddess Artemis, and that seems fitting since it is who I felt most connected to when studying Wicca. Scholars have also connected her to the goddess Frigg, as Frigg’s name and origins are attested and not a lot is known. To me, that seems to fit, especially when you consider Freyja’s complex relationship with Odin. Check here for more about Freyja.
Whilst many might argue that being devout to both Freyja and Loki is somewhat of an oxymoron, to me it makes perfect sense. Every true Pagan faith tells you that you need balance. That the world is far from binary and that you cannot work to the best of your craft if you do not have equality in your work. Loki is a trickster for sure, but he is not inherently bad. Allowing him into my life has definitely been an experience, but as I continue to grow and understand him, I am also offered a clarity to the world I would never have got otherwise. Click here to learn more about Loki.
To many Heathens, meditation is not spiritual but rather physical. Daily meditation to me is a way to slow and control my breathing, to find equilibrium within myself, to help with my anxiety and to help find focus. I find a quiet spot and I focus on my breathing. By focusing my breath it becomes a slow steady rhythm, and like drums on the sea, my heartbeat in my ears sets my pace. Seidr practitioners are most famous for using meditation as part of their reach to understand the fates, Asatru sometimes uses it in the same manner but for their quest for knowledge.
I do read Runes, and I have always had great result from it. First I burn white sage to clear the air and then I burn Benzoin, cinnamon and basil. This combination is well known for its path to the Astral, which to be honest as a Heathen requires a lot of work. I rarely reach the Gods, they’re far too busy to bother with my day to day concerns, mostly the ancestors guide me. Once upon a time, I would call on Frigg said to have the power of forethought, but since declaring my devotion to Freyja, she has in turn given me a much clearer understanding. It goes to show that once again in the Pagan worlds, it’s really about connecting with the right path and the right Gods.
So a phrase I hear (and indeed said) a lot with Wiccan and Pagan altars is “do what feels right”. No such luck here. The fact is the Gods are far too busy to be bothered by such menial Midgard concerns, so if you want their attention, you have got to get it right. What you put on an altar really matters, there’s no good making a sign of Thor’s Mjölnir if you want to reach Odin himself. These Gods are famously hubris and will not pay you any heed if you’re not at least trying hard to please them. After all, isn’t that what an altar is for? Many Heathens will also pay respect to their ancestors on the altar, but for me it all depends on what I’m trying to achieve. If I want to go over the head of my boss to get to my director, I’m not passing a note to my boss and saying “would you mind forwarding that on”. Other than that I leave an offering, a small form of blót (normally alcohol-related), a clear message, I use a blank cloth to cover, my runes and often a figure or two.
Spells and prayer
Prayer rarely works and spells less so. As I’ve said before, the Gods… well, my Gods, are often too busy to attend every little ritual. That said, when I do rituals it is my ancestors I call on, and it is not to ask for something, but to ask for self-empowerment to achieve this. Perhaps really nothing more than a fancy way to meditate, if I want a job, I’m asking for the personal strength to send my CVs to every company around. If I want money, I’m asking for the strength to advertise my products. Now, for most Pagans, this will ring true, so perhaps we’re not so different after all. My partner for the most part is Agnostic in that he follows our ancestors but feels the mythology of Gods is literally just that; myths. He would say that my prayer is no more than a placebo effect, but hey… if it works, it works.
Well, this is a rabbit hole I hope to dive down another time, and if I get started here, this blog is going to suddenly get very long! Let me just say that I have to be careful with what I wear on a daily basis, and only what I am ready to fight for. The fact is symbols like the Swastika simply cannot be worn in public in the western world unless you want to attract far-right deviants. To find out more about Norse symbols, click here.
The final point I wanted to briefly cover. Yes I love and eat meat, I love fish and I love alcohol. Heck, it’s in the blood. That said, as a modern-day environmental activist, I understand that our practices of meat farming drastically need to change, and animal cruelty is a real issue. We also have a much better understanding of the science of meat now. So for the most part, I try to reduce the amount of meat I eat, opting for Quorn, fish and veg. I love bread and since a staple food back then was flatbread, I have worked hard to master the art of making that. I also love cheese as did my ancestors who worked hard to make sure no food went to waste. I love beer and mead, and yes I can make it, but prefer to buy it. And I’ll admit the ancestors do often speak through me when I cook “you haven’t got enough wild garlic, never enough garlic”. People have joked that I practice my beliefs through my food, and honestly I’m okay with that.
I bet after reading this you’re not as excited as you thought you’d be. A pretty mundane life right? But that is the truth of it. The fact is as much as I would love to be holed up in a cave or going raiding, real life doesn’t always allow it. Meet me at a festival though, and you’ll see me at my finest!
Hæðni Norn is the pen name of our founder Cazi. She has been part of the Pagan world for over half her life, and has much experience in many paths. Hæðni Norn translates as Sarcastic Witch, which tells you absolutely everything you need to know about her!