Friday, December 27, 2013

Saturday, December 21, 2013



Lussinatta, or Lussi Night, is a Swedish custom that I find completely fascinating. Today, it is celebrated on the night of December 13th, the Feast Day of St. Lucy. Young girls vie to be selected to represent their schools or towns as Lucy, bedecked in a white robe with red sash and a wreath of greenery and white candles crowning her. This is, of course, a far cry from its heathen roots.
Under the custom, Lussinatta fell on the darkest night of the year, the solstice. Partly due to calendar changes with acceptance of the Julian then Gregorian calendars, the date shifted from roughly the 21st of December to the 13th. It is suspected that the Catholic Church worked to associate the old heathen custom with their St. Lucy partly because of the similarity of sounds and both relate to light.
The Lussi is said to be a terrible witch or monster who rides forth on this night with a host of trolls, ghosts, and goblins called the Lussiferda to cause all sorts of mischief and trouble. It is said to be extremely dangerous to be caught outside from Lussinatta until Jul. This is clearly related to the Oskorei, the Furious Host, which is also known as the Wild Hunt.
In an interesting parallel to modern Santa Claus stories, the Lussi is said to come down the chimney late at night to snatch away poorly behaved children. Additionally, if a family had not properly prepared for the winter season, and Jul in particular, she is said to punish the entire household for their laziness. This has a parallel with some lore pertaining to Frigg in Scandinavia or Holda in Germany punishing the entire house for not finishing the preparations in time. Lussivaka, the tradition of staying awake all night to ward the house and family against evil, is practiced today as an all night party that ends at sunrise.
Some areas, particularly Västergötland, focus on a male creature called the Lussigubben. In Swedish, an affectionate term for an old man is “gubben.” If we understand the Lussi to be Frigg, then it would stand to reason that the Lussigubben is Odin, particularly associated with the wild hunt of the Furious Host.
In Värmland, a slightly different tradition is attested to by Erland Hofsten in an unpublished manuscript from the early 1700s about a feast and offerings made outside. No detailed description of events remains but Hofsten believed this had heathen origins. E. Fernows wrote about similar practices in 1773. Where Hofsten talked about the practice among the commoners, Fernows talked about how the wealthy practiced this feast.
The appearance of St. Lucy today appears to be related to other customs from Värmland. C. Fr. Nyman wrote about a trip in 1764 about a custom that was previously unknown to him. In his unpublished work he describes an early morning visit from a girl dressed like the description given earlier, accompanied by singing, who came to his bedroom door with food, drink, and other assorted items. It isn’t until 1820 that the first depiction of the candles on the head is documented, however.
Celebrating Lussinatta Today
While the contemporary Lussinatta customs are heavily Christianized, I see no reason to abandon the customs and traditions that have been passed down to us. They just need a little tweaking to revive their heathen spirit!
Instead of celebrating it on December 13th, I prefer to return it to its proper place at the solstice. This does, of course, require a little understanding that the Lussi is probably not a witch or monster but Frigg herself. I also believe that it should be a feast filled with light, particularly to light Sunne’s path through the darkest nights of the year and help guide her back to us.
If you should hold a blót or sumbel during this time, it would seem reasonable to me to have the blót lead by a young woman or older girl dressed in a white down, wearing the signature read sash and wreath crown. If you are holding a sumbel, the horn bearer could be dressed in the same attire. If you wish to have the lit candles, I recommend looking into one of the many battery operated crowns with electric lights. It’s much safer than lit candles on their heads!
In the morning, it would be in accordance with some of the Lussinatta customs to have the women and girls serve freshly baked (or at least heated in the oven) lussekatter, a kind of saffron bun, for breakfast.
With a little research and imagination, I’m sure you can come up with other ways to revive the heathen nature of this ancient and truly special custom.
-  Kevin Skoog
Originally posted on

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Is Santa Claus Real?

It is a bit like asking if gravity or air are real, they are demonstrable, quantifiable, but I will grant you easily missed if you aren’t looking the right way, or look a mind that will not accept what the eyes perceive readily.

Odin is the god with the most kennings (use names, bynames, and aliases) of any god in any pantheon in history.  One of them is Father Jul, the Yule Father to whom the Tree was raised, and offering given even when Christianity’s coming forced the tree to come indoors, or when Coke decided he needed to wear their colours to sell Coke at Christmas. The oldest name of Odin, like his associated rune, and his gift to man at creation are the same: inspiration.

God of war, god of poets, god of chieftains, yet the words that come to us from him are largely about gift giving, about relationship building, about hospitality.  Line after line of the Victory Father’s words are not about killing, but about the how little you need to give to improve someone’s life. A gift for a gift he teaches us, often to share our hospitality with those that we care about, to gladden them with gifts, and mingle our thoughts with theirs.

The end of the Havamal mentions some spells known by the All-Wise, for Odin is nothing If not a magician, but the bulk of his work teaches us his most powerful spell, the spell of binding.  With gifts and fair speech, with hospitality given and received, we build bridges between people, to bring them together in the heart of the dark, to bring them warmth in the heart of the cold, to bring them hope in the dying of the light.

Odin takes by-names to suit his purpose.  When he went among the Jottuns to steal from them, he called himself Bolverk, or evil worker.  When he comes among children to teach them how to reach out to each other and learn to become a family, a community, and a people, he was called Father Yule.  When he came to a nation of immigrants who worshiped commerce, he called himself Santa Claus.  What did he teach?  What he always taught.  A gift for a gift, the smallest thing can bring light into our lives, the smallest touch can turn aside the dark choices that wait for us in the killing cold.  In the light it is easy to see who is beside us, but in the darkness you must reach out to know you are not alone.   You must give voice in the silence, give song where whispers flourished.  It is always a time of privation and need, we are still poorest at the Yuletide.  We do not give because we can afford it, we give because we cannot afford not to.  Wassail hard in the heart of the dark, the Yule Father teaches us to bring light into the darkness, to bring song into the silence, that we know we are not alone.  The sun will return, the night will end.  You are not alone.

In ancient times, Odin was not depicted as stalking mortals battle fields to fight for us.  Instead, his presence was to inspire his warriors to wisdom and guile, to battle fury, to rise up to greatness.  His gifts were inspiration; both creativity and passion.  In ancient times the Yule father did the same, he inspired us to be creative and passionate; to see the ways we could reach out and brighten each others lives.  His gift is the inspiration, and for  that we honour him.  His gift is the reminder and the teaching, and for this we follow him.  He is Santa Claus, the  the magic of giving, the joy of the innocent, the wonder of staring into the dark and not seeing a thing of fear, but endless wonder.

At the feet of the Ghost of Christmas Present; the most Pagan of a Christmas Carrol’s Yule figures, are ignorance and want.  They shelter beneath the Yule Father’s robe because man has forgotten them.  The Yule Father has not  At this time he calls for us, in a time of privation and want to give to those who have less.  We CANNOT afford to give, for we all fall short in these times of our own needs.  We give anyways, because the what little you have, others have less.  We do not understand each other, or even like each other, but we are in this world together.  We reach out and give to those we do not know well, or understand, that they may at least know we care.  We receive in return.  How many of these darkest days were made bright by a little gift, a little gesture, a decoration, the bright lights burning in the dark, the sounds of joyous carols where normally angry music blares?  Reciprocal gifting and hospitality turns strangers into friends, friends into kindred, and kindred into family.  It old magic, strong magic.  It is real, provable, visible, and everywhere.

My children were small once, and knew that Santa was real, he drove around in a sleigh (tracked by NATO on the computer) and gave presents to good girls and boys.  He inspired them to give as well, and they filled the house with joy, the school, and the houses of the family and friends we visited.  As they became older, they stopped simply receiving the magic, and became part of it.  They began making or buying gifts to give to others “from Santa”.  My daughters work as elves now to make money for their gift giving, but come home as wired from working as a gift giving elf, as from a rock concert.  They have been initiated into the mysteries of Santa, and accept his reality, as they themselves have become part of his active agency.  Santa is as real as the Queen or the Constitution.  Armies march in his name, armies that give joy and hope, not blood and death.  Armies that reach out to those in need, and to those who are drifting apart.

Santa is real.  For as much as Odin known many names, his truth is singular as his nature; inspiration.  The Yule Father, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Pere Noel, by any of his bynames, in any of his disguises his work is the same.  Seducer of children, as he has long been a seducer of fair maids, and some would argue of fighting men, his seduction serves a purpose.  Always and forever his is the drive to bring us together as a people, to renew and strengthen our bonds. 

Yule tide is his, master of fear, lord of madness, lord of the grave, he knows the heart of the dark, the brutal cold of the sunless time is only balanced by the warmth, light, love, and sustenance that we bring and share with each other.  Darkest of our gods, brightest of our truths, heed the Yule Father, listen to Santa Claus, and let the silence hear your song, the darkness see your light, the loneliness fall to your laughter.  Give, celebrate, laugh, be silly, be sentimental, be thankful or thoughtful, but above all, be together.

- John T Mainer

Thursday, November 28, 2013

An Urglaawe Thanksgiving Musing

I saw the post below (at the bottom of this commentary) on the Facebook status update of a friend.

There are many truths inside this status. There are quite a few folks, many of whom I know personally, who are one missing paycheck away from losing their homes or cars, etc. These kinds of difficulties have many origins, including the current economy. Many aspects of these problems are beyond our immediate or even long-term control, and there are many people who need a hand up (not so much a handout) in order to get back on track. 

Some aspects are self-induced. We live in a culture that, for some odd reason, advances the chaotic force of rootlessness, encouraging people to shun totally any notion of being "too close to people" or having anyone "all up in my business." I can understand this to some degree, but, as a society, we are, to use an old expression, "throwing the baby out with the bath water." Akin to this rootlessness is the utter Blitzkrieg of Black Friday, which is now undermining one of major "connection" holidays of the year with the implied promise of satisfaction being achieved through going shopping. From the Urglaawe perspective, these forms of rootlessness are to be shunned because they destroy the very fabric of our social order. 

There are, of course, plenty of people going through grief, loss, or physical challenges that make the holidays rougher. Some of these are temporary conditions; others are chronic problems that are the largest challenges. Each individual has a responsibility to strive to work through these problems and to attempt not to be defined by them. The wider community has a responsibility to recognize the existence of attempts to surmount these problems and to be supportive towards those who experienced recent challenges and towards those who are working hard to change their own definition of themselves in the face of adversity. 

This comment is meant neither to "rain on the parade" nor to urge everyone to be more appreciative of their life situation. Instead, it is meant as a reminder that we all have a role in changing our society's mindset from rootlessness to a sense of cooperative interdependence from a premise of appropriate compassion coupled with personal responsibility. This may be a utopian pipe dream, but there are no rules that say all dreams have to be small or easy.

Post to which this is a response:

FOR any of my friends who may be alone:
It's important to remember that not everyone is surrounded by large wonderful families. Some of us have problems during the holidays and sometimes are overcome with great sadness when we remember the loved ones who are not with us. And, many people have no one to spend these times with and are besieged by loneliness. We all need caring thoughts and loving prayer right now. If I don't see your name, I'll understand. May I ask my friends wherever you might be, to kindly copy, paste, and share this status for one hour to give a moment of support to all those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just need to know that someone cares. Do it for all of us, for nobody is immune. I hope to see this on the walls of all my friends just for moral support. I know some will! I did it for a friend and you can too! (You have to copy & paste this one, no sharing.)

- Robert L. Schreiwer

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Feast Day of Zisa

September 28 is the observance of the feast day to the goddess Zisa.

Zisa is seen as the founder and protector of the city of Augsburg in modern Bavaria. Augsburg was known earlier as Zizarim. Fraa Zisa was reported under various names (including Isis due to language confusion, apparently). She was particularly associated with the Suevi, who are the predecessors of the Swabians. The Suevi also mixed with the Alemanni and other tribes. There are quite a few locations in southern Germany and Switzerland named for Her. The tribes who knew Her were large contributors to the Pennsylvania German nation.

In the first century BCE, the Romans under Titus Annius laid siege to Zizarim just before Her feast day. Unfortunately for the Romans, many Swabian warriors were coming to Zizarim for the festival, and on Her day they attacked the Romans and throttled them.

Granted, the Romans years later did take the city, but the battle for Zizarim was a famous loss for Rome.

Zisa in the Christian era was depicted as the Virgin Mary with the extra appellation of "Undoer-of-Knots," which is drawn from the lore of the Heathen past. Images of Her from later centuries indicate that she has the ability to undo Urleeg if one's cause is just. Images of Her in this role have been restored in Augsburg's city hall.

She was so widely revered among the Suevi that their dialects called Tuesday "Zistag" not after Ziu but after Her. The Diocese of Augsburg banned the name Zistag and called it "Aftermontag" (After-Monday).

There are quite a few places that bear Her name as the root of their modern names. The church of St. Peter am Perlach stands on the grounds of Her temple at Zisenberg in Augsburg.

Her symbol is the pine cone and appears in Augsburg even in some churches. As the pine cone protects the seeds, so does she protect Her people. The pine cone symbolizes protection, regeneration, and continuity. Even though Augsburg was eventually conquered by the Romans, the Volk's relationship to Zisa continued, in symbolic form if not conscious form, into the present day.

In Urglaawe, Zisa is the consort to Ziu (Tyr) and is known to remove obstacles and undo knots for just causes. She is honored on Zisadaag (28. Scheiding/September).

Hail Zisa!


Grimm, Jacob, James Stallybrass, Teutonic Mythology, volume I, pp. 291-299. New York: Dover Publications, 1966.

Pennick, Nigel. "The Goddess Zisa." Tyr: Myth - Culture -Tradition, Volume 1, pp. 107-110. Atlanta: Ultra, 2002.

Schreiwer, Robert L. and Ammerili Eckhart. A Dictionary of Urglaawe Terminology, pp. 72-74., 2012. ISBN: 978-1-105-51712-9.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Terrible Truths

2010 Remembrance Day I found myself unable to join my unit, and attended our local Cenotaph in uniform to lay the Freehold Wreath and watch my daughters march in the Parade. As often happens at such functions, the crowd sort of self -filtered until I was surrounded by men whose dress and bearing marked them as all former soldiers, and some of them quite recent.

We chatted and made small talk about where we had done what with whom, found the usual points of commonality that all service men and women seem to share and generally were able to relax as a group in friendly company. During the Padre’s heavy Christian service, I noticed one of our vets beginning to lose it. His hands and teeth were clenched, his eyes teared and he was snarling with poorly suppressed rage at hearing his dead comrades compared to lambs and having their lives and deaths reduced to some knock-off of Christ’s (unwilling) sacrifice.

To defuse what looked to be an impending explosion I began to softly speak of the Old Gods wisdom and the words of the Hamaval. As I spoke, he began to listen, and to relax. To hear the words 

Cattle die, kinsmen die, 
you too will die
One thing alone will not die,
the fame of a good mans deeds

affected not only him, but the other gathered veterans as well. On some level all soldiers know that their immortality, like their honour is born from the men and women around them, on the shared trials, hardships, occasional silliness, and too often horror that mark service to the folk. As in this time and place, the old wounds were open, I took the opportunity to minister to him, and to the other listening veterans as I spoke the terrible truths, the things that our ancestors understood and accepted, but Christianity with its plaster saint model of soldiers have deliberately concealed.

What are the terrible truths?

1). I'm glad it was him, not me.

Yes we all feel lucky when the man beside you dies, and not you, and then we feel deeply ashamed to have felt that way, as if we have betrayed our comrades, or shown cowardice. 

More blest are the living than the lifeless,
'for a dead man gathers no cows;
I saw the hearth-fire burn in the rich man's hall
and himself lying dead at the door.

You are supposed to want to live, your desire to live is part of what keeps you fighting, and that love of life is essential if you are going to be fit to return home again. There is no shame in not wanting to die.

2). I'm angry they deserted me.

How unfair! How human; to rail against the dead for deserting us, for leaving us to face life without them. Funerals have always been for the living, the dead need nothing from us anymore. It is natural for us to look at that hole inside where a loved one, comrade, family, or lover used to be, and curse the one who made that wound; even if it was by dying. We then feel shame for resenting the dead.

3). Real men don't cry, (but sometimes I do).

Pain and tears are an offering to the dead, at the funeral or at the Rememberance, the spirits of the dead gather at the call of the living. In this time, in this place, your tears, your pain, is a sacrifice to honour those that you lost. If they were worthy in life of your love and respect, then your tears should burn proudly on your face, for they are owed the dead, and you will not betray them by pretending you care not.

4). I think they were the lucky ones.

The dead fall in glory, the living have to pay the price of the things we do for the folk. On some level, the image of ascending to Valhalla, Heaven, the Summerlands, in a blaze of glory is so much more seductive than dealing with money problems, anger issues, problems sleeping, getting old/wrinkled/crippled. Of course you gloss over the fact that the dead never tasted another beer, or kiss, never held their children again, never got the ten thousand moments of little pleasure we tend to forget about. We fight to survive, but it is a fight that has no end but the grave. If death is a feather and duty a mountain, it is not insane to sometimes look at the feather and think it the lesser burden. As long as you keep lugging your mountain, thats perfectly OK.

5). I hated it, but I miss it......

Fear sucks, stress gets old, and while you can get used to anything, sometimes getting used to chewing dust in your food, having things living in your clothes, sleeping with your rifle, and being stared at by flat hostile eyes or false smiles gets to you after a while. On the other hand, knowing you are at your very best, knowing the people beside you will literally risk their lives for you, knowing that you are working with people who are every bit as driven, dedicated, and professional as you, knowing that the job will demand everything you have to give; that does get addictive. There is a terrible purity to absolutes. Absolute necessity; I will do whatever it takes to complete this mission. Absolute loyalty; trust without limits or hesitation. These two things once experienced change you, and you do not encounter these in the 'real world', nor is there any reason to. No employer gives such loyalty, nor is deserving of it. No job is worth sacrificing your life, rather you have a responsibility to guarentee your safety, as a breadwinner, for your family.

6). I don't understand people anymore.

Abuse victims, survivors of disasters, soldiers, ER trauma teams, and even police in high crime areas will understand that passage through the fire changes you. Like losing your virginity, there is no going back to innocence. Once you have lived with and through certain things, you can never look at the world the same again. A gap opens up between who you are now, and who you were before. You find that you no longer understand family and friends, but you can talk easily with near strangers who simply share that one, seemingly minor, event from your life.

We all use the same words, but some experiences forever change our dictionaries. In a way even parenthood is one of these changes. There is no point in trying (and failing) to be who you were. We are the sum of our choices and experiences, what we have been through changes and strengthens us. You can learn to relate to people from your old life again, but you will have to reach new understandings; you may find that while you can never have the relationship you remember, what you can have now may well become something stronger and deeper.

PTSD in popular myth springs from those few moments of terror we all return to.  Honestly probably some does, or at least the triggers come from there.  PTSD in practice more commonly comes from long periods of stress and fear.  Under those long periods of inhuman stress, people either break, or twist.  In a way, PTSD is born of the mental coping mechanisms that got you through the day. Those mechanisms begin as safety valves, but when locked away, growing in pressure without relief, become as land mines. We put the land mines in crates, and shipped them home, just so we could keep it together.  Now those mines wait to be either found and disarmed, found, mapped, and carefully avoided, or stumbled across in moments alone and unprepared where the casualty is simply delayed, not avoided.  We are not the people that marched away. We need to find a way to draw strength from what we were then, and strength from what we have become after our return, and through those two strengths learn to make new ways through the mine field so we are able to truly embrace life again, rather than withdrawing, less we stumble across the wrong trigger, and have one more terrible memory to live with.  Our ancestors lived in hard times, and learned these terrible truths.  They left us tools to learn to live with duty done, and hardships survived.  The hardest among them left us ways to love and laugh again.

This is not meant to be a guide to how to minister to everyone, nor even for how you should minister to soldiers. What this is, is one map of how our lore and traditions give us the capacity to deal with those things that our societies hypocrisy has ill prepared people for. Inside you are the tools your faith and your life experience have given you; inside the hurting people are memories of doing what it took to survive, and a lifetime of programming telling them they should hate themselves for doing it. Find within yourself the secret shameful truths they are tormenting themselves with and dare to speak them without shame. The gods do not want us crippled. The gods do not give us tools they do not want us to use, and sometimes there really aren't any good options available. Learn from what you have survived, but never allow yourself to feel ashamed for being alive to apply the lesson afterwards.

John T Mainer
Cpl, Retired.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Troth and In-Reach Upcoming Events

The Troth will have an information and sales table at two events on October 5. The table will serve as an In-Reach book drop at each event.

South Jersey Pagan Pride Day at the Distelfink/Troth table.

Heemet Fescht at Kutztown University at the Distelfink/Troth table.

List of most needed titles for In-Reach donations:

Also, the monthly Hendon Heathens Moot in London, UK, falls on October 5 from 6:00-9:00 PM.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Troth at Greater Pittsburgh Pagan Pride Day

First Philadelphia, then Southern New Hampshire, and now Pittsburgh!

The Troth will have a strong presence at Greater Pittsburgh Pagan Pride Day this Saturday, September 14, 2013.

Renowned Heathen author and Troth Clergy Coordinator Diana Paxson will be the Keynote Presenter at this event.

Along with Diana will be Lorrie Wood, whose contributions to -- and knowledge about -- The Troth are immeasurableAlso present will be the current Vice-Steer of The Troth, Robert L. Schreiwer,who will be providing information on The Troth's efforts in the In-Reach Heathen Prison Services Program.

Troth publications and Troth swag will be available at the event, too!

Come out out to the Irish Centre of Pittsburgh, 6886 Forward Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Time: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Cost of Admission: A canned (not too close to expiry, please) food item.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Heathenry: Where Archetypes Go to Die


Recently I had an experience I heartily recommend everyone avoid.  I had a stroke resulting in left side paralysis.  Wyrd being the way it is, there was no warning, save my little dog decided to brave the rain (which his fuzzy candy-ass does not do) to try to come to work with me (which he never does).  Point to instinct and those who still heed them; no points to training, as I am an Industrial First Aid attendant, martial artist, and practitioner of enough esoteric disciplines that I really do think I should have spotted it before it showed symptoms.  Good to know I can still be blindsided by the big stuff.  Keeps me cautious.

Veteran of spinal cord damage, I was prepared for the fear and rage that helplessness has always spawned in me; and it never happened.  It turns out a whole lot of teachings that I wasn’t really consciously aware of came in to play seamlessly, effortlessly, and really organically.  When you think of healing and heathenry, you think of Eir, even of Frigg, sometimes of Thor.  We are prepared as pagans of any stripe for the gentle goddesses, the protective or nurturing gods to be the source of our healing.  Welcome to Heathenry, check your archetypes at the door.

First coming to me without even reaching was Skadi.  I have long known and sought her in the high wild places, near and above the snow line on the high peaks. I learned to feel her on long patrols with the army in some of the loneliest, harshest, and most beautiful land the gods ever turned sideways for goats and infantry to play in.  I have hunted with her, I have done search and rescue calling to her, ever have I sought her in the high lonely places where killers find a beauty that exists in a place most fear to tread.  When I lost, in the space of an hour, command over half of my body, rather than fear, or panic, rather than the rage of Odin, I found instead Skadi; and the cold patience of the hunter.  I fell, yes.  When I fell, I waited, I listened, I tested, and with the confidence of the hunter grown grey and fat with the skills of the hunt, bided my time for the moment I could strike.  Not the metaphor you would think attends healing, but there was no question in my mind, or my spirit.  Skadi bid me wait, watch, and when the prey gave an opening, to strike.

Next waiting for me was the Tree Hanger.  Given a skald's gifts from him long ago, I tend to see things in symbolic context, for me the runes have never been a tool of divination (sortilege was never done with runes in the classical period, according to any decent academic paper I ever read).  Runes can be used by me to show me the question I should be asking, for when you ask the wrong question, your answers, however clever, will seldom be useful.  I saw my problem: Isa, stasis, the killing ice.  My will was clearly Naudhiz, or need-fire.  Isa and Naudhiz were balanced, but I had already lost, so balance was not enough.

From my wife came Kenaz, the torch.  From her came both love and duty, for as I was fallen so was she rising to meet the commitments I could not. Her blazing brighter as my flame guttered caused my own flame to flare in answer.  Kenaz, from light is light kindled.  From my daughter Sowilo, in her love, in her laughter was the life giving essence of the sun.  I was fallen, but life went on, the sun shone, animals and children played, and through her I saw the window into the life that sprung ever renewed in Sunna’s blessing.

Against Isa was balanced not simply Naudhiz, my need, but Kenaz, and Sowilo.  Ice faced the fire of my need, the bright torch of my wife’s, and the sunshine of my daughter’s love.  There remained the small matter of winning back my body.  However, it really did seem to be a small matter.  Skadi was in me, with a hunter’s patience, I waited only for the time to strike.  As often happens, the best intentions of healers did nothing but rouse the power in me to do what their inducements to helplessness would only make impossible.

I reached out in the night to the wights of the place I lay.  Nothing against the Royal Columbian Hospital, but the wights there, like the nurses, look upon those who lie in their care as half-people, as thralls without ability to do for themselves.  They bind with chains of weakness, they bind with chains of care.  I care not.  First and last with me has always been the One Eye.  The Feeder of Ravens found me in basic training, and for better or worse has been the one I have learned from ever since.  From the pool of peace, and surrender was RCH Emergency, I reached at last for the rage.  Not anger, for now given the focus of the runes I had already found and framed my needs, what I sought was different.  As once when I lay in similar state with spinal injury, I called out to Wode in his oldest, and darkest form.  I called to the wild hunt, to the transforming madness, to the ecstatic and elemental fury of the storm.  It is not anger, it is not hate, it is a rage that is simply unfettered by all constraint of reason, of ethic, of human limitation and weakness. Is anyone surprised that we had a severe thunderstorm that night, to the point that the hospital stairwells were flooded from rain overflow on the roof?  How could I know this trapped from the sound of all outside?  Because with Skadi’s patience and Wode’s rage I took back what was mine.  My first stumbling steps, led to balance drills, led to walking, led to climbing the concrete stairs where the staff complained about the fury of last nights storm, only to wonder why I threw my head back and roared my laughter.

There are gentle gods, and goddesses in Heathenry.  Unlike Wicca, or any of the archetypal derivatives that form the pan-pagan or pantheist spectrum, we do not care for archetypes.  Each of us seeks our gods and goddesses for reasons of our own needs and nature.  Each looks to the teachings of those they know for lessons in their own needs.  Where a Wiccan can say a thing belongs to Frey, a Heathen may seek instead for Tyr or Frigg, whose lessons they feel they understand better, even if the question is not one others would think that god and goddess could address.

A Heathen fell, as Wyrd wove he must.  A Heathen fought, as against everything save the final doom Wyrd weaves for us we may win out.  A Heathen found his healing, from the tools placed at his hand by Skadi, the White Huntress, and Odin, the Victory Father.  Our gods and ancestors are beside us in our challenges, for while the challenge is ours to face, we remain theirs to instruct.  Archetypes cannot contain the truths of Heathenry, for we know our gods to be more than any one thing; their essence is so primal and so deep that its expression cannot be contained in any neat category or pigeon hole.

-- John T Mainer

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Troth's In-Reach to Be Beneficiary of Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day

The In-Reach Heathen Services Program is a designated beneficiary of Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day. In-Reach is in need of books and other Heathen materials that contain positive messages that are consistent with The Troth's Mission and Position statements. 

Folks who are in the Philadelphia area and are able to make the event, please come out and join us!

Please see the press release below for links to beneficiaries and requested donation items.


FOR RELEASE August 11, 2013  Media Contact: Robert L. Schreiwer,

Philadelphia Pagan Pride, Inc., is pleased to announce the return of Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day on Saturday, August 31, 2013, at Clark Park (4301 Chester Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143). The event runs from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, rain or shine. 

Philadelphia Pagan Pride Day is a family-friendly celebration of the harvest and reflects a variety of Pagan, Heathen, Wiccan, and other religious beliefs and practices. The day's events will feature a variety of workshops and discussions on religious and cultural aspects from the various traditions.  

We have an exciting array of vendors and performers who will exhibit their wares and their talents. We are accepting additional vendors, workshop leaders, performers, and children's activity ideas up until August 15, 2013. Please visit to participate!  

Entry to the event is free, but we do request the donation of a canned food item or other provisions for our beneficiaries. This year, our beneficiaries are the food bank at the Mazzoni Center, Forgotten Cats, and In-Reach Heathen Prison Services.  

In 2012, Mazzoni Center's food bank Mazzoni Center's Food Bank provided more than 11,000 bags of groceries for over 1,200 individuals and families. For more information on Mazzoni Center services, please see 

Forgotten Cats is a humane trap, neuter, and release organization. the organization also provides adoption services. For more information on Forgotten Cats, please see 

In-Reach Heathen Prison Services is a joint effort of The Troth and Distelfink Sippschaft to bring positive materials and messages to incarcerated Heathens. In-Reach also accepts donations of other Pagan materials and distributes them through alliances and partnerships with other Pagan organizations. For more information on In-Reach, please see 

A detailed list of needed donation items may be found at:

Anyone interested in getting involved as a volunteer should contact us by e-mail at: 

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

NYC City Councilman Dan Halloran's Relationship to The Troth

It has been noted that Dan Halloran (a/k/a O’Halloran) recently opened a blog page on a major Pagan website, where he states prominently that he is an Elder in The Troth. He is recorded as a Clergyman and Elder of our organization, but he has been neither active nor involved for several years.  Mr. Halloran was recently accused of felonious acts.  If he is found guilty, Troth disciplinary procedures will be enacted. In the meantime, Mr. Halloran’s status as Troth Clergy and Elder has been suspended pending the outcome of these legal issues.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Unforgiving as a Hammr

Unforgiving as a Hammer

Forgiveness isn’t Heathen.  Like sin, it’s not our concept, and its accepted definition has little relevance to how we think and what we do.  Heathens don’t do sin, karma, or forgiveness.  We do Worth, Schild, and Orlog.

What others call fate and destiny, heathens know as wyrd.  Wyrd is in the hands of the Norns, and to the weavings of wyrd even the gods must bow.  Wyrd binds all worlds and all times.  Orlog, or the lines of life and luck, describes your interaction with Wyrd.  Orlog is partly inherited, for your situation is partly of your making, and partly what you inherit from the actions and choices of others, and the wyrd or general workings of the world.  Orlog is a web, for our choices and actions in our lives touch the lives and affect the luck of those who came before, all of those who come after, and all of those whose lives you interact with  on a daily basis.  What you do, affects others, many beyond your sight or knowledge.

We are our deeds.  This is a truth that nearly all heathens accept; which is about as amazing as a rule all anarchists obey.  We are the sum of all experiences we have been through, all choices we have made, and all the lessons we have taken from them.  Our pain, our shame, our pride, our joy are all rooted in what we have done.  We are all imperfect, we are all struggling to build our worth.  Worth is the value  that each community you are a part of places on the choices and deeds you have done.  Worth is gained and lost on a daily basis, and a lifetime of worth can be lost in a single moment of unrestrained rage, cowardice, greed, or malice.

Heathens are not victims; the gods didn’t hit us, a truck did.  The gods didn’t rob or rape us, someone chose to do that.  The pain of loss, of trauma, the long road to rebuilding trust, rebuilding confidence, rebuilding strength are our victories.  Wyrd weaves as it will, there is no judgement in bad things happening to them.  The gods do not guarantee we will win, the guarantee only that they will be beside us in our struggles.

Symbol of our faith is the Hammer of Thor.  Thor is not the god who grants victory; for Odin the Victory Father has that honour.  Thor is not the god of wealth, peace and prosperity, for that honour goes to Freyr.  Thor is not even the lord of honour, for that goes to Tyr.  Thor is the god of that most heathen of all functions; picking yourself off the ground and starting over.

Heathens do not forgive, for to ask you to forgive me for what I have done to you cheapens the victories you have fought long and hard to win in rebuilding what my actions have destroyed.  In asking for your forgiveness, I am now taking from you your right to rage, your right to the fires of anger to balance the loss, pain, fear, or despair that accompanied whatever effect the wrong I committed cost you.  Further; the implication is that if you refuse to grant this to me, or continue to resent me, the person who wronged you is now morally superior as you can’t forgive them.

Take a plate in your hand and then hurl it to the ground.  Pick it up and hand it back to the owner ask forgiveness.  Is the plate still broken?  Your deeds cannot be taken back.  Your words once spoken can never be unheard.  Trusts once violated can never be unviolated.  You can only accept what has happened, learn from it and move on.  That is what heathens do.

Greeks tell the tale of Sisyphus; doomed by the gods to forever push a rock up a hill, only to have it roll down to the bottom.  Heathens live this myth.  To us it is called building worth.  We strive in our daily lives to build our worth through word and deed, only to see years or decades of hard work and good choices lost in a single bad decision.  Like Thor in his famous fishing voyage; finding himself trapped in a battle with the midgard sperpent that can have no end, we shrug, laugh, and keep swinging.  Heathens know that we all make mistakes, we strive to learn from our own, and not repeat them, we strive to learn from the bad things that happen, and grow stronger or wiser from each challenge to help with the next one.  Like Sisyphus, we know we will not reach the top of that mountain, but we understand that it is worth the struggle to fight our way towards worth with every breath, every step, every choice.  Thor is the god who teaches us how to stare at that rock at the bottom of the mountain, and get back to work pushing it up.  For teaching us to laugh when the stone bounces past us again, we love him perhaps best of all.

Heathens have the concept of redress, indeed, weregild or monetary payment for wrongs is something that ancient Heathens put into the civil law of the north, and became the foundations of the English Speaking worlds common law.  The specific concept is schild, or debt.  Third of the Norns is Skuld, she who covers what will be, what must be.  To her do we look for schild.  If you have wronged another, part of rebuilding your worth is acknowledging to them your error, and if such is pleasing to them, making a payment or offering some act as token of your acceptance of responsibility for harming them.  This does not ask them to forgive you.  You cannot take back what was done, and pretending you can has mental and emotional consequences for both of you that are unhealthy.

If I get behind the wheel drunk, and kill your child, I cannot ever undo that.  I have lost much worth in the eyes of society, and all worth in yours.  I can never fix what is between us.  Though I save a thousand lives, your child will ever be dead.  Though that choice cannot ever be undone, the choices I make from now on can begin to rebuild my worth in the eyes of others.  Indeed it is possible for the same choice to build worth in the eyes of some, and cost you worth in the eyes of others, for worth is specific to communities, and each has its own standards to judge.

The hardest thing to do is rebuild when you have lost everything.  Whether you have had your world crushed by the deeds of others, or seen the world and worth you built destroyed by your own deeds, it is at the moment when you have nothing that you will understand heathenry best.  The Canadian Infantry teaches this bit of wisdom that survived the centuries from our heathen past, you can be killed, but not stopped.  If you are still alive, it is not over.  If you are still alive, you can rebuild.  It is so much harder to rebuild than to build, and so much harder to give yourself fully to building something you now understand can be taken away in a heartbeat.  This is where your community, your kindred, your ancestors and your gods are there to lend you strength.  It is for you to push that rock back up the mountain, but it is OK to lean for support on those who care about you while you line up for your next push.

We don’t forgive the storm for flattening our crop, the thief for stealing our goods, the mouth that betrayed a trust, or the hand that struck our cheek.  What is done is done.  It does not own us, it does not define us, but it does motivate us, shape us, scar us.  We rebuild, we move on, we grow strong in the broken places.  Our gods and goddesses each have paths and truths to teach us as we struggle to move on; but none of them pretend to undo what has been done.

John T Mainer

John T. Mainer is the Troth Steward for Western Canada and is also currently serving on the High Rede.

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of The Troth as an organization.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Troth's Respone to SCOTUS Decisions on DOMA and Prop8

It is The Troth's position that decisions regarding marriage should be left to the individuals involved.

Similarly, our clergy members decide as individuals whether or not to perform any given union.

The Troth is a Heathen organization. Honorable people are welcome here -- and always have been.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Heil Dir, Holle"

At Trothmoot 2013 in Tehachapi, California, folks were treated to a wonderful experience at Leticia Andreas' Holle Weih. In a combined Urglaawe and German Heathen rite, Troth Elder Birgit Knorr shared her song, Heil Dir, Holle, with the group. The participants felt the power around them rise as she sang her song.

Thanks to Jan Hijatt and Birgit, the song is now available on YouTube.

We are fortunate in The Troth to have so many musically talented members producing the songs of Heathenry!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

In-Reach Updates and Immediate Needs

The Troth's In-Reach Heathen Prison Services program is getting off the ground.

We will soon be in need of Troth members (in good standing for a year and a day) to volunteer to help answer postal mail inquiries from chaplains, administrators, and inmates. 

We have also received an administrative request for immediate in-person visitation in Central Indiana, and we are therefore seeking Troth members who are able to volunteer to visit the facility and to provide religious leadership in a manner that is consistent with The Troth's Mission and Position Statements. 

Anyone who is interested in joining the In-Reach volunteer team  is welcomed to send an email to

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Troth Elections and Officer Oaths

Hail all!

The results of The Troth elections were announced today at Trothmoot 2013. The results are as follows:

Steve Abell

Robert Lusch Schreiwer

Lisa Morgenstern
Gari Farmer
John T. Mainer

Additionally, some other Officer positions were announced or renewed:

Bari Mandelbaum (formal oath-taking only was needed)

Tanya Petersen

Robert Lusch-Schreiwer

Nan Boyster

Su "Ratatask" Eaves (not in attendance; oath-taking will be arranged at a later time)

Dennis Ford

Thorrfin Skullsplitter - Southern California
Gari Farmer - Tennessee
John T. Mainer - Western Canada
Bill Sikkens - Nevada

The Troth would like to express its sincere gratitude for the efforts and contributions of outgoing Stter, Victoria Clare, and Rede member, Hrafn Skald. The Troth has become an amazing organization due in large part to the dedication of Victoria and Hraffy.