Despite its modern popularity, the domestic cat has been overlooked as a valuable tool in symbolic and interpretive understandings of the Viking Age. The cat’s importance in some cultures, such as Ancient Egypt, is abundantly clear, but since they rarely appear in the Norse archaeological record, they are overlooked. This project proposes that the scarcity of the cat in the Norse archaeological record is in fact quite telling of its significance, and it can be an effective tool in recognizing Norse beliefs and cultic practices. Although somewhat hidden, cats are there and quite prominent. One just needs to know how to find them and distinguish their meaning.
Grógaldr or The Spell of Gróa is the first of two poems, now commonly published under the title Svipdagsmál found in several 17th century paper manuscripts with Fjölsvinnsmál. In at least three of these manuscripts, the poems are in reverse order and separated by a third eddic poem…
When considering religion people oftentimes immediately think of churches, denominations, superstition, and the sheepish congregations of the slave faith. In reviving paganism people have distanced themselves from these facets of religion, not out of propriety, but rather because paganism has not been officially re-instituted on a public level, and so is, seemingly, driven by individuals.
The disconnect between paganism and institution is not without cause. Historically religion, along with military and Kingly offices, facilitated a nationalistic, and wholly political role. Christianity, a well documented religion, was supposed to be exceptional in that it was divorced from nationalism and ethnicity, though it could not divorce itself from its kingly office. The King of christianity was supposed to be the sacrificial christ, though the consolidation of Christian regency into the papal office represents a battle as old as time, and one quite relevant to the subject of germanic faith and society.
Sacral kingship is the central mystery of all religion, and can be found prominently in the formulas of the norman Arthurian literature, as well as in Frazier’s famous Kings of Nemi (Golden Bough). First come priests (Merlin), who divest wisdom and authority, then come the Kings (Arthur), who apply this wisdom to the mundane sphere.
This is so with the individual pagan as well. No one wants to be a pagan congregant, first comes the priestly aspirations, which manifests as a desire to have unique relationships with the gods. This stage of heathen development imparts all of the practical skills of heathenism, and includes such duties as studying heathen literature, ritual, and divination.
Next, after any manner of self realization, comes the kingly aspiration, though pagans may never admit it, usually out of fear of human sacrifice. It is too late to turn back in the kingly stage of development, rather we feel the profound urge to teach, or rather legislate our experience (tumblr is full of such dogmatic legislation.)
What comes next? It may seem that all that is left is to endlessly teach and learn, but there is another, potentially involuntary, step in this formula that is tied to the very function, and secret meaning, of sacral kingship. Invariably the king must be slain, which manifests in a variety of ways, but none more potently than in the ego. Just as the king is the head of the state, so too the head is the king of the body, keeper of face and ego.
To say that our religion difers to a king celebrates the mentality that motivates and illuminates our endeavors. The development of this king (intelligence), from our priestly teacher (wisdom and understanding), is never perfect. To revel in our kingliness, as so many of our heathen brethren (myself included) tend to, is a type of stagnation akin to death. This stagnation breeds corruption, hypocrisy, and foolishness, and must justly be slain by the adversary, who is reality, and the material/under world.
Consider the Three sacred personages of Norse Scripture; Odin the priest, Hoenir the King, and Loki the destroyer of stagnation, the adversary.
Why is Loki so popular? Why does Loki lead the forces of Ragnarok? Why must the Gods die? Because where there is stagnation; mentally, spiritually, physically, religiously, politically, there is death for the mere sake of chaos. Stagnation is conservation, the opposite of conservation is destruction, change is constant, destruction inevitable. However, where there is death there is rebirth, destruction facilitates creation, and new life a promise.
Loki has come into such spiritual prominence because we, as a generation of faith makers and aspirants, are removed from the guidance of the mysteries, and unprepared for ego death. The prominence of Loki worship is a wake up call to all of society, for truly even the gods must habitually undertake the mysteries, just as Odin’s sacrifice is perpetually there in the minds of his devotees. These ebbs and flows of society and religion occur involuntarily, and to the great consternation of political authorities everywhere, there is no enemy to peace other than the ego.
It would seem that real religion occurs wether you participate in it or not. Even though the runic mysteries have been long extinct their symbols survive intact and inviolated in every facet of every culture. To see clearly the true pagan religion one needs only to observe the pomp and circumstance of governmental phallus worship, royal weddings, government assassinations, celebrity sacrifices, and all of the mindless trappings of the modern pharaonic religion. This is not the paganism i love, but none the less it is there, under the same stars that shone on our ancestors. The gods work there will with necessity, and all of existence is DOXA.
Lathgertha by Morris Williams
I have been musing over arguments long past, often centering over concerns people have had about me pointing out the astrological characteristics of the runes. Opponents to the astro-elemental archetypes inherent in the runes rely on the namesakes of runes from poetry to substantiate their practices. These namesakes are invaluable to our tradition but do not correlate to what we know about the origin of the runes, and the origins of the universe.
Firstly it is known that the runes were drawn up in the well of Urdr, though interpretations of this fact vary. Urdr simply means origin, and is the precursor to the Anglo-Saxon word Wyrd, which can be generalized to mean fate. Synonymous concepts would be the western concept of truth, or the eastern concept of karma, meaning that there is no predestination, but rather an infinately momentous force of events that culminate into a tangible present existence, the facts and circumstances of this wave being the reality of which we must all be aware of, without deception.
That being said we know that the origin of the universe was not facilitated by literal giant cows, the universe is not maintained and trimmed by dwarven elk, and there are no literal horses pulling the sun across the sky. So when we look at the runes, and read the poetic names aloud, we have to wonder at how these words fit into a cosmology that exists apart from and before the creation of Midgard, and how these things can exist in a non geocentric universe; the ancient belief in which is debatable.
The creatures and objects described in the runes make little sense in relation to our concepts of creation, or origin. In order to make sense of this, extra significance must be attached to such concepts as “Riding”, or “Elk”, or “Man”, with an understanding that these runes represent an archetype, either of their own cultural substance, or of universal mystical concepts, never the less they are useless at face value for the purposes they posses.
The concept of Urdr is principally rooted in time, either in new beginnings, or in the Origin of dimensional existence. Time is the father of theology, as concerns our preoccupation with death, fate, and evolution of social consciousness. It is for this reason that time is associated with saturn, and saturn is associated with religious authority, and understanding, as well as with the rune “Thurs”, a “giant”; likely even the primordial giant of creation, from whom the universe was built. The measure of time is in the sun and moon, and thus we see the green shoots of religious imagery emerging from saturnian soil. The sun can be observed to alight in various constellations with some reliability, at least in antiquity, though it is its degree from the equator that determines the season, and therefore the characteristics associated with astrology. Astrology can exist completely independent from a knowledge of the stars by simply following agrarian and seasonal observation. Thus any thing based in religion, which is based on time, which is measured in seasons, can be accurately correlated to some form of astrological and elemental parallelism. Add to this an actual tradition of astronomical knowledge, and a penchant for traveling, as well as a vast ancient history of secret traditions from countless migrations. In the true momentum of Urdr, and in light of the above, adhering slavishly to textual sources on such a narrow margin as rune poems or inscriptions seems counterproductive to the actual use and implementation of the runes.
There is no heathen text that admonishes the inspired, there are no prohibitions on the transmission of runic lore, no doctrine that defies interpretation. There is no taboo against the astrological/elemental interpretation of the runes in any rune poem, nor do any of the grammar’s pages caution the reader to faithfully adhere to one interpretation over the other. What is important is to base your lore on what is related to the runes, or to the subject matters ascribed to them, or to those things found in the origins of our art. In your personal sphere, cryptology aside, the runes should stand as far apart from human convention as is soundly possible, as each mystery is a link to the divine.