Monday, September 9, 2019

In Honor of Arminius

To honor this hero, I offer snippets from my new book, Finding Polaris ...

         Introduction, Part One - The Age of Arminius

Arminius of the Cherusci is a hero for all Germanic Heathens to know.  His words and deeds, his orlog spun Wyrd that has been felt for centuries, and should be appreciated today.  Arminius stopped the Roman advance past the River Rhine.  Caesar Augustus had plans to push Rome’s borders to the River Elbe, but Arminius at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE dashed all hopes of that happening.  Today we have a little better knowledge of Arminius and the Germanic peoples of that time.  In the past we have relied on Tacitus’ accounts in his book, The Agricola and The Germania. However, archeology carried out over the last twenty or so years shines a more positive and detailed light on the Germanic peoples of that era ...   

At the time of Arminius the Germanic peoples lived in well established agricultural economic societies.  According to archeologist Peter S. Wells – Despite what Roman authors wrote about them, the peoples of central and northern continental Europe practiced a fully settled agricultural economy, as their ancestors had for over four thousand years before the time of Arminius.  They lived in sturdy houses in small settlements situated on small rivers or smaller streams to assure a constant supply of water.  

Tacitus writes – Even iron is not plentiful; this has been inferred from the sort of weapons they have (Tacitus, Ibid pg. 105).  According to Wells, that was not the case.  Many communities produced their own iron tools from local bog ores. By the time the settlement of Meppen and others like it were inhabited around the time of Christ, iron metallurgy had been practiced in the region for about seven centuries, and many blacksmiths were highly knowledgeable in the techniques of producing sharp, and durable steel blades for knives, sickles, scythes, axes, spears, and swords (Wells, Ibid. pg. 114).  This was the environment that Arminius grew up in.   

Archeology has helped to tell a better story about Arminius.  If you enjoyed these snippets, there are many more within the covers of Finding Polaris.  Click on the title as it appears on the right of this blog and you will be taken to the book's Amazon page.  

          Copyright 2019 Terry Unger All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 30, 2019

Finding Polaris - Published

The purpose of this book is to help dispel the Christian myth surrounding the conversion of the northern European peoples. The introduction of this book begins by discussing Arminius, his victory over Rome, and the Roman Empire of his time. There is a brief but necessary explanation of Arian versus Trinitarian Christianity and how they fought for Constantine's favor. Part I of this book describes how Roman Emperors aided in the growth of Christianity whether they wanted to or not. From this point forward, the book takes pains to point out that the so-called conversion of the northern Europeans was nothing at all like the Church storyline. Part II briefly discusses calendars and why they are important. Finally, Heathen holidays are discussed with the focus on Yule. In place of footnotes, this book lists the sources behind the statement of facts and these sources make up a healthy bibliography.

                                  Author’s Foreword

The roots of this book go back to 2006 when I amassed information for my Reluctant Hero Trilogy.  What I did not use, and it was considerable, I kept and added to it over the years.  That data is the backbone for this book.  The basic thrust of this book is to dispel the Christian story about the conversion of the northern European peoples and why Yule should be the most important Heathen Holy Tide.  The introduction is by necessity lengthy. 
          Part one of the introduction is about Arminius of the Cherusci.  Many people look to Ragnar Lodbrok of the Viking era as a hero and that is fine; in my opinion, Arminius is more so.  Modern archeology shows the truth about the Germanic peoples of that era.  Part two is a thumbnail about various religious concepts. 
          Natural religion versus revealed religion is examined.  Also, most folks believe that at the turn of the 4th century, the age of Constantine, there was only ‘one Christianity.’  No so – there were two major sects that angled for supremacy and both were highly influenced by a major Pagan religion.  The body of the book is also divided into two parts. 
          The first part of the book is about the conversion period.  I focused on several Roman Emperors and how one way or another they fostered Christianity.  The focus then shifts to the Franks, starting with Clovis and continues up to the grandsons of Charlemagne.  Part one finishes with a few words about Scandinavian kings.  The focus of Yule is the bulk of Part two. 
          In order to have a better understanding of Yule I found it necessary to offer a brief discussion about calendars and how they affected not just holidays but the basic life of the common man ... 

Click on the title, 'Finding Polaris' listed on the right of this blog to purchase for a modest $10.00.  

                  Copyright 2019 Terry Unger All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The American Heathen

The American Heathen

I am in the process of writing my Magnum Opus.  It will be the most scholarly work I’ve written.  But, I am not a scholar; I write for the Joe Lunchbox crowd.  That said, there is no telling when it will be published.  A targeted end date for this work is premature.  And as promised, a second edition for my Heilige Yule will be included.  There are things driving this work, American Heathenry being one of them. 

Here Begins the Rant -

          Growing up in south-eastern Pennsylvania I had many friends who were in a similar situation as me.  Many of us had parents and/or grandparents who came to this country at the beginning of the 20th century.  A few had families that were here longer.  When we consider the time that Europeans began to settle here to our present, it’s just a mere 400 years, give or take a decade or two.  Not much time for blood to wet the soil. 
          During the mid 19th century in Europe when the rise of nationalism picked up speed, a phrase – blood and soil – was born.  In my opinion, the use of this phrase by American Heathens today is irrational.  For starters, it’s not about blood; it’s about DNA. 
          DNA is what links us to our Ancestors.  We are in many ways the sum total of Kin that came before us.  It is easy to say then, that we are our Ancestors and they are us.  This linkage is true, solid, and transcends the physical (recent DNA discoveries indicate that ancestral memory is carried within DNA and can be experienced in dreams, meditation, etc.  I am not a scientist, but is it possible that DNA can carry with it a sense of place, land, soil?).  
          Our European ancestral heritage is deep, profound, and thousands of years old.  Our Ancestors bled and died in that soil.  Now I believe that that ‘soil’ is a part of our DNA (the sense of place, of being).  It is a part of the ancestral memory carried within our DNA strands.  And through our DNA, we can experience it.  Any ancestral time in the USA, I believe, is not a long enough period to have an impact.  Plus, it’s Christian.  Ancestral Europe was Heathen for thousands of years before the so-called conversion.  Let me offer an example. 
          Native Americans have been in the USA for many thousands of years.  These folks have a solid connection with the soil, the land and often speak of it.  It is a connection that transcends the physical; it is a part of their DNA and Folk Soul.  For those of us of European descent, this may occur if we are a 7th or 8th generation family farmer (as an example) in the USA.  Here is something interesting. 
          When my wife and I visited Europe in the summer of 2017 we had some feelings that made us feel ‘at home.’  That’s the best I can describe it.  That feeling hit as we walked the grounds of Sutton Hoo and then looked out on to King Raedwald’s grave mound.  The feeling of peace that we experienced standing before the Cathedral of Notre Dame had nothing to do with Christian Catholic Universalism.  It had everything to do with the Celtic and Roman temples that the Cathedral is built on.  The vibes are still there.  While in Austria along the Danube and in Salzburg the feelings were the most intense.  These experiences, I believe, came through our DNA (and let’s not forget our Folk Soul).  Maybe this is in some small way what Native Americans feel.  Unfortunately, there is a small number of European Heathens who do not think too kindly about their American Heathen cousins. 
          These folks think that since we are born in the USA we should follow the path of Native Americans (something Native Americans find quite amusing) - because we were born here, and not there.  That’s not just silly but downright ignorant.  We are Americans of European descent.  We have the culture, heritage, and DNA.  We have the right to claim Asatru/Heathenry as our own faith and ancestral folkway.  But even still many young American Heathens wonder if they are ‘doing it right.’  The reason for this, I believe, is some bullying from Reconstructionists. 
          In the early days of the Heathen revival, two simple things happened.  To get started, the leaders ‘borrowed’ a thing or two from Wicca.  To this day that burns holes in the brains of some Recons.  The Reconstructionists came along and did the heavy lifting.  These fellows did the research that put us well past Snorri (I agree with Dr. Jackson Crawford.  Snorri is a SECONDARY SOURCE.  At best) and gave us the more colorful Heathenry that we enjoy today.  But out of Reconstructionism came the purist. 
          The purist is a Recon who is happy to tell you that you are ‘doing it wrong.’  According to the purist if you are not conducting Blot and Sumbel a certain way (their way, of course) and doing it on a certain day (the way our Ancestors did) you’re wrong.  This American Heathen has a problem with that. 
          Regardless of all the good historical work, the Recons gave us (And I for one am glad they did.  Especially since I got to be a lazy bastard as I grew older) we know little of Elder Heathenry.  It’s a lot like going to the beach with a 50-gallon drum and filling it with sand.  At the end of the day, you have a lot of sand but there is a shit load of sand left on the beach.  And, there was never, ever a pan-Germanic religion.  It was a way of life that varied from locale to locale.  The guy down the river and across the bend did things a tad different than the folks 10 miles upstream. 
          We know, for instance, that Blots and Sumbels happened and we have three calendars and other historical written material to back that up.  We know that the Norse celebrated Sigrblot on the full moon that fell in the month we know today as April.  At the same time, we know that the Anglo-Saxons celebrated Ostar/Eostre.  Both were Blots held at the same time that officially marked the first day of summer – but with different overtones.  The same is true in October for Winterfyllth/Winter Nights (the beginning of winter).  And we know that both celebrated Yule for three days in January, depending on the full moon (it appears that Yule was moved to December around the Solstice with the introduction of the Julian calendar, conversion, and Law decree.  However, there are Heathens who celebrate Yule in January at the full moon.  I have no problem with that and you should not either).   We do not know many details, but we do know that Heathenry was fluid then and it should be so now. 
          Our Ancestors changed and evolved; in many instances, survival depended on it.  If something needed change for any good reason it was changed.  To think that our Ancestors expect us to carry on and do things the way they did is foolish.  They and our Gods expect us to grow, evolve, adapt, and overcome – to be the best that we can be (they do not want us to give up indoor plumbing and electricity to be just like them.  Heathens that believe that must be on crack.  Keep in mind what century we live in).  We live in the 21st century (you see, I had to remind you!).  It is an understatement to say that life is different than the days of Elder Heathenry.  The demands of life are certainly different and time for some folks today is a precious commodity.  Expecting folks to take off of work in the middle of the week just because it’s a full moon for the celebration is not reasonable.  So stuff is done on weekends.  Even the purists have to deal with that.  And, the idea that you’re doing it wrong – the way you are doing your celebration and when you are doing it is offensive to our Gods and Ancestors is just plain rubbish.  Now let me tell you something.
          Whatever you may have heard about Texas weather is probably true.  And if you live along the Gulf Coast as my wife and I do, you’d swear that most of the year is downright tropical.  Some months ago a friend of mine, Berk Harbin, suggested that we in Texas change the name of the seasonal holiday ‘Winter Finding’ (late September) to Fall Finding.  The reason – Texas weather; we don’t have winter here like in the northern states.  It was agreeable and Winter Finding was replaced by Fall Finding.  Nothing changed but the title of the celebration to fit here in Texas.  Here is another simple change, or addition.  
          Heathens are mindful of others.  If some of our numbers have a problem with alcohol, alcohol is left out of Blot and Sumbel.  Apple juice or another juice is substituted for the alcohol and becomes the liquid libation of the celebration.  The results are the same.  Today some of us include our kids in Blot.  Juice is naturally preferred. This is another example of Heathens adapting and changing to bring about the desired result.  There are other changes and adaptations happening but maybe the most important is tribalism.  
          From my front porch, it appears that many American Heathens have warmed to the idea of tribalism – the formation of kindred/clans and the coming together in a sort of confederation.  For now, it is coming together for the purpose of joint activities.  In the future, it can develop into more.  And tribalism seems to appeal more to folks than any national organization.  Here in Texas, we are Folkish but no way in the sense of that racist nonsense that came out of the mid-19th century. We are Folkish in the sense of family.  If you are a parent, a sister or a brother, you should easily understand that. But know this – American Heathenry is growing and American Heathens do have a seat at the table.   

Here Ends The Rant. 

    Copyright 2019 Terry Unger All Rights Reserved


Monday, March 11, 2019

Water in the Well

We humans as we pass through time, put much water (figuratively speaking, words and deeds) into Urda's Well.   The Wyrd Sisters pull water from this Well to nourish Yggdrasil, the World Tree.  Time makes the strange and different put into the Well become Normal, Acceptable, and Customary. Holidays are not what they used to be in days of Elder Heathenry.  

In a recent post, Calendars, holidays, their relationship and importance 2/25/2019, I discussed how calendars used factored into when the holidays were celebrated (please read the post above for clarity).  This post is a followup and to answer some questions it raised.  

To pure Reconstructionists, to NOT do exactly what our Ancestors did means that we "are doing it wrong."  I beg to differ on this point.  In my opinion, I must ask what our Ancestors would like us to do.  To double down on that, I also ask what our Gods would like us to do.  

To assume what our Gods would like us to do is a bit presumptuous on our part.  Since they are infinitely more evolved than we are, making assumptions is a fool's errand, especially since individually we are rather insignificant.  But there is one valid exception.  They want us to honor them in Blot and Sumbel.  They want us to grow and evolve, to be the best that we can be.  You can bet that our Ancestors want the same.  But pure Recons want us to do exactly what our Ancestors did in their time.  To me, this is a mistake, albeit an honest one.

Recons would like if all of Heathenry fell in line with what they do.  This mainly involves when and how we celebrate the holidays.  They go back to how Elder Heathenry used lunar cycles/calendars to determine the Holy Tides.  Make no mistake, I respect the hell out of this and totally agree. To back up their point, passages from the Yngling Saga, Bede, and one or two more sources are used.  Again, I respect this stuff.  And, I have used both lunar cycles and the written articles as historical points - it happened, and I will continue to do so.  But, a lot of water has been put in the Well and much taken out to nourish the Tree. 

Recons argue that early in the Heathen rival (or Asatru, if you prefer that word), was influenced by Wicca.  That the early pioneers of Heathenry adopted the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.  Well, the short answer is, yes they did.  However, that was then, this is now.  Recons also argue the influence of Christianity on modern Heathenry.  Again, the short answer is yes, it did.  But this is the 21st century and much water went into the Well and Yggdrasil nourished.  Here is a major point. 

We cannot escape Christianity and what it did to aid and abet conversion in the North (this will have some detail in the new book).  With conversion came the Julian "solar" calendar.  The calendar and conversion were aided by the likes of Hakon the Good.  Hakon made a law that Yule was to be celebrated at the same time as his savior's birth, which with the Julian calendar was Winter Solstice, December 25th, fixed, every year.  Elder Heathenry celebrated Yule mid to late January, based on the lunar reckoning of the full moon.  So Recons today celebrate Yule for three days in mid to late January.  And the rest of us are wrong for not doing the same.  What of the two other major holidays? 

Winter's Night/Winterfyllith/ Disablot was celebrated by Elder Heathenry in mid to late October based on the full moon.  Recons do this today.  But, the rest of Heathenry also celebrates this holiday in the same time frame, just not in sync with the lunar cycle.  Is this wrong?  The short answer is no. 

Eostre/Sigrblot was celebrated by Elder Heathenry in mid to late April, in sync with the full moon.  Again, Recons copy this practice.  The rest of Heathenry celebrates the holiday at this time, just not with the lunar cycle in mind.  So, if we do not celebrate Yule in January with or without full moon reckoning, are we wrong?  Are we wrong to celebrate Yuletide at roughly the same time Christians celebrate their Christmas?  I believe not. 

It was mentioned that we are living in the 21st century.  We have moved forward and evolved, despite the presence of Christianity.  That said, 21st-century life has placed demands upon us that the centuries of Elder Heathenry could not imagine.  Like, holding down a job to pay the bills and put food on the table.  One cannot just take three days off in the middle of the week because it's the full moon and we have a religious thing going on.   For the most part, modern Heathenry uses week-ends for these celebrations, as do Recons, regardless of when the full moon shows itself.  Then we have this point. 

I frequently used the descriptive words "water in the well and watering world tree, watering Yggdrasil."  What happened over time, due to repetition, has become Normal, Acceptable, and Customary.  It becomes a part of the tree, the fabric of Wyrd.  Christianity, in order to facilitate conversion, blended our Yule into their Christmas.  That is the long and short of it.  I do not believe that a wholesale change of Yule Celebration is needed.  But there is a thing or two that needs to be understood. 

Heathens of all ages need to know what happened in Elder Heathenry and why it changed.  We need to know the major players in the game who made things happen.  And they need to know that the conversion of the northern European peoples had just as much to do with politics as it did religion.  It was the stuff that made the Saxons fight.  These subjects and more will be dealt with in my new book. 

                   Copyright 2019 Terry Unger All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 25, 2019

Calendars, holidays, their relationship, and importance.

In the past, I have written about Heathen holidays, and I tried to not be offensive.  It didn't get me or my message very far.  Heathenry has just three major holidays.  That's it.  The rest is secondary, some of which are recent additions.  And then we have one that is an out and out celebration of a Christian saint.  Let me start at a new point.

All of Northern Europe worshipped in some way and form the Aesir.  But there was not in any way or form a 'pan Northern European religious' practice.  Nothing was the same; similarities here, a difference there.  Let's look at people and calendars.

Scandinavians and Icelanders I will refer to as 'Norse.'  The group I will refer to as Anglo-Saxon is comprised of Saxons, Jutes, Frisians, Angles, the early Franks, and Lombards.  Both groups had these three major holidays.

For the Norse - The Ynglinga Saga, chapter eight (Winter Nights, Yule, and Sigrblot).  In the Heimskringla, the Saga of Hakon the Good, section fifteen.

For the Anglo-Saxons - A few excerpts from Tacitus's Germania and excerpts from Bede's De Temporum Ratione.  

What makes this challenging is that Elder Heathenry (Heathenry before Christianization) did not use a solar calendar.  They used a lunar calendar.

The Norse celebrated the first day of winter on a full moon that appears usually mid to late October.  It is called Winter Nights or Disablot.  The Anglo-Saxons did the same but referred to it as Winter Moon.

The Norse and the Anglo-Saxons celebrated Yule during mid to late January, depending on when the full moon occurred.  It was a three-day celebration with the focus on good crops for the coming year.  The Anglo-Saxons give us Mother's Night.  It was the first day of their Yule and it was held on the full moon.  In both cases, Yule is a three-day celebration, crop focused, and half-way between the first day of winter and the first day of summer.

 Sigrblot is the Norse celebration of the first day of summer.  It's done mid to late April, depending on the full moon.  The Anglo-Saxons celebrated the first day of summer with a full day feast and called it Oster/Ostar/Eostre.

These are the three major celebrations from Elder Heathenry, and at no time was a holiday celebration wrapped around a solstice or equinox.  The answer for this is simple - Elder Heathenry used lunar calendars.  Solstices and equinoxes form the bulwark of solar calendars, the Roman/Julian and the Popish/Gregorian, which is used today.  It was not until Christianization that solar calendars were  introduced to the northern peoples.

There are holidays that should be celebrated, like Haustblot/Blood Month in November and Alfablot in December.  The point is the calendar origins and then wisely celebrating them.  The one alluded to above that should not be celebrated by Heathens/Pagans is Walpurgisnacht.

Walpurga was the niece of Boniface and she had the same proclivities as her uncle.  For her work, the Church gleefully made her a saint.  Her feast day is the 'eve of May' ... or April 30th.

These topics and more are the subjects of my new book.  Hopefully, it will be published before this year is finished.  This post is but a bare thumbnail concerning these subjects. 

                           Copyright 2019 Terry Unger All Rights Reserved

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Irminsul Revisited

Several years ago I wrote three posts on the Irminsul.  I hinted, maybe too strongly, that it was located at Externstiene.  At the time I was intrigued with the site but knew, for just as many years and then some, that the Irminsul was not there. Science and real sources state otherwise.  Modern scholars agree that Externstiene has nothing to do with the Irminsul.  Thermoluminescence, the modern technique of studying the use of fire, showed that it was used from time to time as a shelter in pre-Christian times and nothing more.  Also, extensive archaeological digs failed to yield any evidence of Externstiene being any kind of religious site.  It was located about 30 miles north in the old Eresburg area, now known as Obermarsburg.  So why Externstiene?  

In 1564 or thereabouts, a German fellow stated that the Irminsul of the Saxons had to be located at the Externstiene stone formation.  No research, just an assumption, based on wishful thinking about the standing stones at Externstiene. 
So, in 1929 a minor Nazi party functionary made the same statement.  Another assumption made without a stitch of research.  The Royal Frankish Annals were available.  As were other sources.  

In 772 the Saxons burned down a church.  Think of this as the Saxons showing the Vikings (20 years later, Lindisfarne) how to party.  Depending on the source, the church was either inside Saxon territory or just over the border in the Frankish kingdom.  Charlemagne got the news and butter started to churn in his shorts.  The Royal Frankish Annals tell the tale.  

Charlemagne, 'The Butcher of Saxons,' gathered his troops at Worms.  First, he had to destroy the castle/fortress at Eresburg.  More than likely it was guarding the Irminsul complex (this is an educated assumption on my part).  Then the Butcher took on the Irminsul.  

The RFA tells us that the Irminsul was a huge pillar.  A huge pillar.  And, it took the Butcher three days to finish the job.  Finally, the RFA casually mentions all the gold and silver the Butcher carted off.  

The Irminsul, the universal pillar, the axis mundi of the Saxons, did not stand by itself.  It was in a spiritual complex, a center of pilgrimage.  The Saxon people came to worship and left votive offerings, the gold, and silver that the Butcher took with him.  And only a huge complex would take three days to destroy.  Compare this to the Heathen temple at Uppsala Sweden and you will get the idea.  

The following year, 773, the Saxons retook the site.  Unfortunately, the Butcher prevailed and in 780 built a church on the site.  He tossed in a Christian cemetery to double down on his hope that the Saxons would leave well enough alone.  They did, but centuries later during the Thirty Years War that church was torched to the ground.  Soon after another church was erected on this site.  It is still there and is functioning today.  Inside and outside of this church are plaques that plainly state that this is the site of the Saxon Irminsul.  On our next trip to Europe, we will be making a pilgrimage to Obermarsburg, the site of the one and only Irminsul.  

                  Copyright 2019 Terry Unger All Rights Reserved 

Monday, January 28, 2019

On Prayer

It may shock some people to find out that Heathens are not godless.  We have many.  So, it should not be shocking to find out that Heathens pray.  Folks new to Heathenry and those just curious, wonder how it's done.

Heathens, who been around a while understand that our Gods are our Elder Kin.  We are a family.  We can talk with our Gods just like we would talk to an older brother or sister across a kitchen table.  If you want to honor a particular God or Goddess it's done with the offering of gifts during Blot.  There are fine examples of how this is done in many fine publications - there is no need for me to elaborate.  Other points needed to point out are below.

The relationship a Heathen has with his Gods is dramatically different than the Christian.  As noted above, the Heathen and his Gods are Kinfolk.  As such. Heathen Gods are not separated from their human siblings.  Gods and humans share the 'same space within a Multiverse,' as parts of creation itself.  Not so in Christianity.  The Christian God is separate and distant from man and creation, in some 'unknown space,' the Judeo-Christian heaven.  To visualize this, draw a circle.

This circle represents the Multiverse.  Within this circle is the Heathen, all of creation, and the Gods.  All of everything is there, constantly interacting.  Now, draw two more circles.

Place one on the far left and the other on the far right.  Within the left circle are the Christian and the rest of creation.  Within the right circle is the Christian God.  The space between the circles graphically shows the separation that exists between the God of the Christians and his creation.  There are considerable doctrine and dogma within Christianity that makes this so.  Again, so much to lay out here.  If you are curious it's all available to discover online or in a library.  And, Heathens are not limited to talking/praying to just our Gods.

Our Ancestors are available to us as well as our Matronae (Desir in Old Norse).  The kitchen table thing works well with our Ancestors and Matronae (the kitchen table thing is an example of simply talking to another older family member.  It could be the living room, the bedroom, the beach, or the forests.  Speak your mind - there is no political correctness).  If you wish to honor them or seek some favor, Blot just like you would for the Gods.  One more thing. 

A Heathen needs to develop a relationship with his fylgja (fill-ge-yah).  She has been with you before birth and will guide you into the afterlife.  Your fylgja can be your advocate, your comforter, and your early warning system - if you listen to her still small voice within you.  But, like many relationships, it starts with you. 

               Copyright 2019 Terry Unger All Rights Reserved

In Honor of Arminius

To honor this hero, I offer snippets from my new book, Finding Polaris ...            Introduction, Part One - The Age of Arminius ...