Category Archives: The Pagan Heathen

By Edain Duguay.

The Pagan Heathen is a monthly column, which will explore Paganism and Heathenism, and how the two can meld together. I will be drawing upon my experiences as a founding member of an ADF Grove and an Asatru Kindred, and also from the fact that I’ve been a Pagan for almost thirty years and I walk the path of a Pagan/Heathen or Druid/Heathen.
Within this column, I’ll be giving Pagans some basic information about the Heathen belief system Asatru, and how some of this information can be included in the everyday life of Pagans. I will also be comparing various aspects of Asatru and ADF Druidry, interviewing Heathen authors who publish through Wyrdwood Publications and getting insights from an Asatru Gythia (gyðja) and a Senior Druid.

Hospitality

In May, I showed you how the Virtues of the Asatru and Druid (ADF) traditions differed and that only three of them were actually the same:

This month, we shall be looking at the last of the three, the Virtue of Hospitality in a little more detail, and, with the help of an Asatru Gythia (gyðja) and a Senior Druid, we will see how this Virtue relates to a Kindred and a Grove, and the members therein.

The Meaning of Hospitality

Sylvie, Gythia ~ Mapleheim Kindred (Asatru):

Hospitality is one of the virtues that those who practice Asatru hold in high esteem in themselves and in others.  There are many examples in the lore and the sagas of how hospitality was important to those long ago.  In a time when all travel was done on horseback or on foot, refusing admittance to strangers at the door might be condemning them to death by exposure in inclement weather.  As the Gods were also known to wander Midgardh in disguise, being inhospitable to the Gods might lead to unfortunate circumstances.

In modern times, Heathens are widely known for opening their homes and their kitchens to those who are visiting.  When we welcome people into our houses and serve them the best of what we have, we strengthen our bonds of community and kinship with those around us.  But hospitality doesn’t mean we restrict ourselves to caring for only those who come to our homes.  It can and does include caring for friends and kinsmen by helping in any manner possible when they are facing difficulty.  The hospitality of your hearth means that you are there to help those around you with whatever you are able to provide.  This can mean anything from helping fill someone’s refrigerator when they are needing a helping hand, helping someone else move into a new house, or helping re-shingle your kinsman’s roof during an emergency.


Julie, Senior Druid ~ Thornhaven Grove (ADF):

I take my cue for this virtue almost entirely from the rune Gebo, which speaks of the obligations that come with being a host or guest. Hospitality is about interdependence, between ourselves, and between us and the Gods.  It speaks to humanism, the human connection that we have with each other, and need to maintain in order to survive individually and as a race. It encompasses compassion, sensitivity, understanding the needs of others, and not waiting to asked. We are all guests in each others’ lives, and the best thing we can do is be good guests and good hosts. As a host, I give freely without expecting return. As a good guest, I ask for little, bring a gift or help pitch in, and know when to leave. The same can be said in terms of our relationship with our Gods. As the Gebo rune states, a gift demands a gift–for all the blessings we receive from the Gods, we must return their generosity with offerings and devotion. And as guests on this planet, we must take as little as possible, and work to improve the world, rather than simply take from it.

This virtue has a very personal connection with me. When my husband and I were moving from the UK to Canada, then Canada to the UK and finally from the UK back to Canada over the span of eight years, there were many times that we only owned a suitcase each and that was all we had in the way of belongings. Each of these times, our family and friends stepped up and offered us help. The hospitality came in many forms including a place to stay, free furniture, loans of a car to find an apartment or to get equipment and food. It even included, what was known jokingly at the time, as ‘reverse pillaging’, where groceries were actually gifted to us and put in our hands.

We will always be grateful for this hospitality, love and help we received during that desperate time. We know that we will never be able to ‘pay’ everyone back for all the help we gained, at least the folks concerned know it was very appreciated and that we would always be there for them.

Hospitality is, in my opinion, the most under used virtue in this modern age. Too many people are more concerned with their own lives than sharing and helping others. We saw this on a major scale during 9/11 where for a couple of months everyone in New York opened their doors, homes and hearts to those in need and gave all they could. Once the crisis had passed, however, the people of New York went back to their independent lives with no interest in sharing or giving hospitality.

The point I am trying to make is that we should not wait for a disaster like 9/11 or Haiti to galvanise us into action. Hospitality is something that should be practised everyday, even if in a small way to your family and friends or the greater community around you.

When was then last time you gave true hospitality to someone?

Or, indeed, received it?

This video is wonderful and, although it is an advertisement, you will understand why I wanted to show it here.

Finally, now that I have come to end of these three articles and will start anew next month, I just wanted to say that I recently attended a discussion by the Thornhaven Grove (ADF) on Virtues. It was a wonderful evening exploring the differences and similarities of the ADF, Norse and First Nations Virtues. If you get the opportunity to discuss the Virtues with a diverse group of people, do so. It was a most entertaining and informative evening. 🙂

Blessings to your Hearth,

Edain
Edain Duguay.com
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, Best Selling eBook Author and Award Winning Blog Writer.

Author of the blogs:
English, Pagan and in Canada
Worlds Of My Own Making
Gramarye, The Magical Homestead

Contact Edain @ FacebookTwitterYoutubeBlogger

Perseverance

In May (May’s article HERE), I showed you how the Virtues of the Asatru and Druid (ADF) traditions differed and that only three of them were actually the same:

This month, we shall be looking at the Virtue of Perseverance in a little more detail, and, with the help of an Asatru Gythia (gyðja) and a Senior Druid, we will see how this Virtue relates to a Kindred and a Grove, and the members therein.

The Meaning of Perseverance

Sylvie, Gythia ~ Mapleheim Kindred (Asatru):

Steadfastness (or perseverance) is a combination of all the Nine Noble Virtues.  It takes a lot of perseverance to be courageous, truthful, honourable, loyal, disciplined, hospitable, industrious, and independent. It is cumulative effects of the small actions, repeated on a daily basis that makes people reliable and steadfast.  It is prevailing against the quiet desperation of the soul that can set in when life seems ready to overwhelm you.  Perseverance keeps you sitting at your desk for another hour of overtime, when you would rather leave and go to the beach.  It is the repetition of scales and arpeggios for the musician, and the fortitude necessary for the long-distance runner to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  It is the quality that made our ancestors repeat the sowing, weeding and harvesting of their crops, and to keep their animals healthy so they would survive the winter.

Steadfastness helps to ensure the continuation of the individual, the family unit, and society as a whole.   It is far easier for someone to abandon their responsibilities and walk away, than to overcome the situation by staying and trying to resolve their problems.  It takes perseverance to get up every morning to go to a job you might hate, but that you need to assure the survival of your family and your pride.

As the Havamal tells us, “the lying down wolf never got the lamb, nor sleeping wight slew his foe”.

Julie, Senior Druid ~ Thornhaven Grove (ADF):

Perseverance is not unlike courage, in the ability to push through hardship or difficulty. It is also linked to the concept of vision, in the sense that in having a vision, you are able to remain focused and work towards it. Perseverance is an act of will, and taps into one’s discipline, the ability to continue applying oneself to a task or goal regardless of external (and sometimes internal) factors. Perseverance is also a means of dealing with conflict or problems. Dealing with conflict with equanimity, holding on to the vision and pushing through–this would exemplify perseverance in the face of adversity. In offering your suffering/struggle to the Gods, perseverance becomes a holy act, and brings in another virtue: faith. Having faith that what you are doing is part of the “Great Plan” helps you persevere. That being said, there is always a fine line between perseverance and stubbornness–one should always be open to changing course if the original course proves wrong or pointless.

I have to say that both descriptions of perseverance are, in my opinion, spot on. Life, itself, would not exist if not for perseverance, survival is yet another word for it.

When one perseveres and succeeds, the mental, and in some cases physical, rewards are outstanding, the sense of achievement is intense and well deserved, no matter the reason.

We persevere in our lives a lot more than we think we do and often we have no clue that we are persevering until we step back and look at our actions or someone points them out to us.

  • If you took a step back right now, what areas of your life would you recognize as times of sheer perseverance and determination of will?
  • Or is perseverance something you have found to be lacking in your life, perhaps something you need to work on?

To end this month’s article, I would like to share with you an inspirational journey of perseverance taken by one woman:

Blessings to your Hearth,

Edain
Edain Duguay.com
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, Best Selling eBook Author and Award Winning Blog Writer.

Author of the blogs:
English, Pagan and in Canada
Worlds Of My Own Making
Gramarye, The Magical Homestead

Contact Edain @ FacebookTwitterYoutubeBlogger

Courage

Last month, I showed you how the Virtues of the Asatru and Druid (ADF) traditions differed and that only three of them were the same:

  • Courage
  • Perseverance
  • Hospitality

(You can see last months article here )

This month, we shall be looking at the Virtue of Courage in a little more detail, and, with the help of an Asatru Gythia (gyðja) and a Senior Druid, we shall see how this Virtue is used in modern society and everyday life.

The Meaning of Courage:

Sylvie Charbonneau, Gythia ~ Mapleheim Kindred (Asatru):

‘The courage displayed by our ancestors, and the courage required to get through modern life spring from the same source in our souls. However, they are applied differently, due to the society and context in which they are found.  In olden times, the threats to life and property were far more apparent than they are today.  While it takes a lot of courage to stand and fight for your family when raiders invade, it also takes a lot of courage for a struggling father to work three jobs to be able to feed his family. The bravery shown by the ancestors was far more visceral and visible, and thus far easier to identify as courage. Every day existence in the past was a struggle to survive, whether it be against beasts, foes or even the weather and seasons.

Our modern society has dulled the fight or flight response in humanity, making the reaction to danger more difficult. The few professions today where courage is required are easily identified by every person in society.  Our soldiers, police officers, fire-fighters and search and rescue teams put their lives on the line for the betterment of their community. Their personal safety comes second to the need of the people. They display the true courage of a hero when they face down an armed attacker or run into a burning building. They are part of the few who choose to walk the deadly grounds in the computer age.

Modern Heathens today can display their courage in many different ways.  It takes bravery to stand up and go against the flow, when your morals and personal beliefs go against the mainstream. Many a Heathen has found themselves in bitter opposition to a situation that goes against their values. Friends, family and co-workers might challenge our resolve, but the true modern hero holds his or her ground and says: Here stand I, alone if necessary, for what I believe.’

Julie Desrosiers, Senior Druid ~ Thornhaven Grove (ADF):

‘Courage is very simple to describe: it is facing fear or adversity, being afraid or worried or despairing, and still getting the job done. It is understanding the risk(s) that you are facing, and acting anyway. It can be confused with foolhardiness-really the difference is in truly knowing what you risk in losing (other’s esteem, your reputation, your livelihood, your life). Whether standing in front of an audience or an enemy line, courage is brought to bear.

While simple enough to explain, it is more complex in application. In a situation, for instance, when you are compromising your true self to keep the peace in your family, does it take more courage to stop compromising and be yourself, or continue to compromise until a time when you no longer can hurt others by being yourself, dealing with the personal strife that this might cause on your own?

Some would say standing up for your beliefs and values takes the most courage – while others might argue that compromising for the sake of peace or harmony takes the most courage. Either way, it is safe to say that it takes courage to know the risk or strife associated with a particular action and sticking with it regardless.’

These two outlooks are interesting, aren’t they?

Notice how the Asatru description of courage is more forthright, advocating a certain level of courage to stand up for what you believe to be right. Whilst the Druidic approach advocates both to stand up and/or finding the courage within to compromise, enabling ‘the whole’ to run smoothly.

Each viewpoint is as valid as the other, in my opinion, and both reactions can take a great deal of courage to follow through.

I identify more with the Druidic description of this virtue than the Asatru version. I, like many others out there, am still learning that life is full of times when the decision on how to use your courage can be as tough as actually using it.

I believe, that true courage is knowing when to stand up and when to stay quiet. It’s realising the consequences of whichever action you choose, battling your fear and still doing it. I speak from experience. I’ve been in several situations where I’ve realised that I have far more courage than I ever would have imagined or thought possible.

What do you think courage is and how would you describe it?

Remember, you also have much more courage that you think.

I would like to end this article with a lovely video I found a while ago, which matches the subject matter perfectly.

‘Courage Is’ by The Strange Familiar.

Blessings to your Hearth,

Edain
Edain Duguay.com
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, Best Selling eBook Author and Award Winning Blog Writer.

Author of the blogs:
English, Pagan and in Canada
Worlds Of My Own Making
Gramarye, The Magical Homestead

Contact Edain @ FacebookTwitterYoutubeBlogger

Similar Virtues

In recent years, I’ve had the pleasure of being a founding member of both an ADF Grove and an Asatru Kindred. The more time I’ve spent within these two groups, the more I feel that there are elements that can make them co-exist and, in fact, compliment each other in one path or tradition. I shall pause here and wait for the traditionalists to get back up from the floor….

With the co-existence in mind, I want to show you one of the main focuses of the Asatru belief system and it’s counterpart in ADF Druidry.

The Virtues.

In Asatru, the virtues are what many Heathens style their entire lives on and a few only give them a cursory glance. For myself, I use them as my moral compass and lifestyle direction.

Below are the Asatru and Druid (ADF) Virtues for comparison:

Asatru Virtues: Druid (ADF) Virtues:
Courage Courage
Truth Wisdom

Honour

Vision

Fidelity

Integrity

Discipline

Piety

Hospitality

Hospitality

Industriousness

Moderation

Self Reliance

Fertility

Perseverance

Perseverance

As you can see there are three that are the same in both lists: Courage, Perseverance and Hospitality. There are also some that are similar and others that are quite different.

I prefer the Asatru virtues, they speak me and how I have chosen to live my life, indeed, they speak to me much more than the Druid (ADF) ones. This does not, of course, make them better or worse than the others, it’s just how my instincts react to them.

The virtues, and how one applies them to ones life, are very personal and can obviously be interpreted differently depending on your point of view. I will, in later articles, go into more depth on the three matching virtues and what they mean to Pagans and/or Heathens in our modern day society. I will also be finding out how these virtues relate to the priesthood of the two traditions with comments from an Asatru Gythia (gyðja) and the Senior Druid of an ADF Grove.

Until then, I will leave you with some question’s to think about:

  • Which set of virtues fits in with your lifestyle and values?
  • Would you feel the need to mix the above sets or perhaps write an entirely new list?

Blessings to your Hearth,

Edain
Edain Duguay.com
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, eBook Author and Blog Writer

Contact Edain @ FacebookTwitterYoutubeBlogger

Sumbel 101

Hail and welcome to my first monthly article with The Pagan and the Pen. If you would like to read my columnist introduction, please see my previous post.

This month, I want to talk to you about sumbels.

Have you ever been invited to a sumbel? Perhaps by a Heathen friend at a Kindred meeting or a festival?

Maybe, you have heard of sumbels (also spelt sumble and symbel), but you have no clue what happens, never mind what is expected of you?

Hopefully, this post will answer all those questions and more.

What is a sumbel?

A sumbel is an Asatru toasting ritual with alcohol. The participants of the ritual are expected to speak and make toasts as the horn of mead (usually) is passed around. There are three rounds to begin with:

  • Round One: To the Gods and/or the Goddesses
  • Round Two: To the ancestors and/or a personal hero
  • Round Three: For an Oath, Boast or Toast

Round One: To the Gods and/or the Goddesses:

As the horn is passed to you from the right, you will raise it in the name of a God or a Goddess (or both) that have shown presence in your life or who you have gained some insight from. Be that a creative insight or wisdom or whatever effect they have had on your life recently. Explain why you are toasting this deity.

Once the toast is said, you would generally say ‘Hail’ or ‘Hail adding the God or Goddesses name’ at which point the participants reply with ‘Hail’ or ‘Hail adding the God or Goddesses name’. You would then take a drink from the horn and pass the horn to the person on your left. Please note that if you do not drink alcohol or dislike the drink that is being used for toasting, for whatever reason, you may pour your share into the fire, into a blessing bowl, or onto the ground as an offering.  You may also dip a forefinger into the liquid and anoint your own forehead. This is all acceptable behaviour.

Round Two: To the Ancestors and/or a personal hero:

During Round Two, you will raise the horn in the name of your ancestor(s) or a personal hero of yours (Batman or Spiderman do not count as heroes…lol). You may describe your ancestor or hero and why you are toasting them, you may state what effect they have had on you or your life or what inspiration you have gained from them.  Short tales about their mighty deeds or the reason why you’re inspired by the person being toasted are appropriate.  Just make sure to keep your story under a few minutes, or people might start losing interest.

The ancestor or hero you toast should be a deceased individual, as opposed to a still-living one.  Many Heathens believe that it’s ill luck to toast an ancestor that is still alive.  Exceptions are made when praising a large group that has accomplished a mighty deed (such as a group of firefighters that have risked their lives to rescue others), or to toast the people who are assembled at the sumbel.

Once the toast is said, you would generally say ‘Hail’ or ‘Hail adding the name of the ancestor or hero’ at which point the participants reply with ‘Hail’ or ‘Hail adding the name of the ancestor or hero’. You then take a drink from the horn and pass the horn to the person on your left, again you can make an offering of the liquid in their name.

Round Three: To an Oath, Boast or Toast:

In this final ‘official’ round, you will raise the horn in an Oath, Boast or Toast. You may choose one of these three toasts:

  • You may make an oath to do something or improve on something, but be prepared for it to be taken very seriously. Never oath anything you do not expect to be able to complete.*
  • You may boast about something you have achieved recently, something that you are proud of yourself for.
  • You may toast anything or anyone that has brought you happiness in whatever form and has improved your life or well-being.

*Remember, this is a ritual and any oaths taken at this time are considered absolute and binding to the point that the other participants will make note of your oath and keep you to it. They may also come up with a forfeit, which is usually something you deeply wouldn’t want to do, as a precaution against you failing your oath.  The penalty for failing to keep your oath must be something that would exact such a high price that it would be easier to fulfil the oath than to not keep it.  I can’t emphasize just how binding these oaths are. Also, remember that in the Norse Tradition Honour is a virtue and your word is your bond.

Once the toast is said, you would generally say ‘Hail’ at which point the participants reply with ‘Hail’. You will take a drink from the Horn and pass the horn to the person on your left.

After these three main rounds the sumbel may end, although sometimes sumbels do continue with a more relaxed attitude. Should you wish to partake of any further rounds, you may use any of the three main toasting rounds whenever the horn is passed to you. However, if you do not wish to make further toasts, it is acceptable to take a drink from the horn and pass it to your left without comment, or simply pass it without drinking. The leader of the sumbel with let everyone know, at the end of the first three rounds, whether the sumbel is to end or if it will continue until either the horn is completely drained, or the gathered people decide that they have had enough.  Since there is no circle or magical boundary created between the group and the outside world, the people are free to excuse themselves out of the gathering and re-enter at any point after the first three rounds are complete.

Please remember to not drink heavily from the horn during the sumbel as being drunk is consider bad form and, of course, disrespecting a tradition’s ritual is very ill-advised.

For those of you who are not familiar with drinking from a horn, there are a few points to remember.  Firstly, never drain the horn completely of the liquid.  If you notice that the level is getting low when you receive the horn, mention to the Gothi (goði) or Gythia (gyðja)** that the horn is almost empty.  They will ensure to refill the horn so the sumble may continue; if a horn is emptied completely, the liquid must be blessed before the sumble may continue.  It is far easier to simply bless the liquid at the beginning and adding further liquid to the remaining drink automatically blesses it.  Also, every horn has a “sweet spot” that it is easiest to drink out of.  Some horns have the nasty tendency of drenching the drinker with the entire contents of the horn when tipped the wrong way and an air pocket hits the mead at the bottom.  The general rule is “Point down and you won’t drown.”  If the point of the horn is pointing towards the ceiling as you drink, you might find yourself needing a towel.

**The actual term Gothi translates as God-man, while Gythia means God-woman.
~ A goði or gothi (plural goðar) is the Old Norse term for a priest and chieftain. Gyðja signifies a priestess. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gothi

I’ve had the honour of being present at many sumbels and their sizes have differed enormously from four people to over thirty. I find the most preferable size, for the intimacy of a good sumbel, is between five and fifteen.

I hope this post has given you a basic understanding of what a sumbel is and how to participate in one, if ever you are invited. Please feel free to leave any comments below or ask questions.

Blessings to your Hearth,

Edain
Edain Duguay.com
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, eBook Author and Blog Writer

Author of the blogs:
English, Pagan and in Canada
Worlds Of My Own Making
Gramarye, The Magical Homestead

Contact Edain @ FacebookTwitterYoutubeBlogger

An introduction to a new columnist…

Hello and welcome to my new column!

Before I post my first article, I thought I would do as other new writers to The Pagan and the Pen have done, and take a few minutes to introduce myself.

My name is Edain Duguay, I was born and raised in the East Midlands of England and I have loved writing from an early age. Indeed, I wrote my first book at the age of nine and hand bound it. Admittedly, it was a class project but an enjoyable one and became bitten by the writing bug. During my teens I wrote several fictional stories, some got finished and some, sadly, did not.

Life then intervened. I got married to my first husband, had a daughter and began an interesting career in local government. During my career, I also studied at university part-time until I gained qualifications in computer studies (various) and in Local History, as you can imagine it was a very busy time for me.

Several years later, I was able to find some time to return to my love of writing and, in 2006, I created Wyrdwood Publications (although it was known by another name at that time) and our first online publication was The Pagan Activist. The Pagan Activist was a free online Pagan newspaper with columnists and articles from around the globe. It ran solely on donations from the general public and was read in sixty-four countries, until it’s closure in 2009.

My first eBook, ‘Pagan Poetry for the Seasons and Festivals’, debuted in 2008. It was published by Wyrdwood Publications and since it’s release has remained as Wyrdwood Publications #3 Best Seller. In 2009, I released my next eBook: ‘Pagans on the Wildside: Campfire Cooking’. This eBook was an instant success and has remained as Wyrdwood Publications #1 Best Seller since it’s release.

During 2010, I will continue to work on my children’s Pagan eBook series: ‘The Witchlets of Witches Brew’. There are two, of the eight titles, released so far; Holly the Hasty Witch and Ash the Solitary Witch. Two more eBooks in this series are scheduled to be released in 2010, while the last four will be released in 2011.

Finally, I’m in the process of editing my first print book (or pBook): Chameleon. It’s the first part of the paranormal/fantasy series, The Chameleon Sagas. I have also begun writing the second book in this series: Castrum Lucis.

My other interests include watching movies, sewing and reading copious amounts of books. I am also interested in a more self-sufficient lifestyle and on my blogs, I post about homesteading, writing and my Pagan life here in Canada, with my Canadian husband.

Now, with this background, you may be wondering what I’ll be writing about on The Pagan and the Pen. I have been fortunate enough to be a founding member of an ADF Grove and an Asatru Kindred and for several years I have walked the path of a Pagan/Heathen. With this in mind, I shall be posting on various aspects of Heathenism, giving Pagans some basic information about a Heathen belief system and how some of this information can be included in the everyday life of Pagans. Also, I will be comparing various aspects of Asatru and ADF Druidry along with a couple of interviews with Heathen authors who publish through Wyrdwood Publications.

Hopefully, you will find my posts interesting, informative and thought-provoking. I look forward to writing for The Pagan and the Pen  on the 17th of every month and reading your comments.

Thank you for taking the time to read my introduction and my first column will be posted shortly.  🙂

Blessings to your Hearth,

Edain
Edain Duguay.com
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, eBook Author and Blog Writer

Author of the blogs:
English, Pagan and in Canada
Worlds Of My Own Making
Gramarye, The Magical Homestead

Contact Edain @ FacebookTwitterYoutubeBlogger