May 14th, 2008

Asatru, Druidry, and the Seeker of Land Spirits

As many (not all) forms of Druidry is based on Celtic traditions and spiritual beliefs, so also is Asatru based on Norse traditions and beliefs. All these older beliefs and new religions/philosophies based on them recognize the existence of genius loci, land spirits, spirits of place, called landwights and elves by Asatru and in its Norse/Germanic/English origins.

My particular interests in such paths as Druidry, Heathenry, Asatru and the like are related to the spirits of the land, moreso than a close identification with any particular tradition to the exclusion of the others. After all, besides my Native American tribal identification, my own ancestors are both Northern (English, German, Dutch, Norse) AND Celtic (Irish, Scot, Welsh)-- plus God knows what all else. As a youngster, I read the myths of the Norse and Greeks more than I did the myths of the Celts, and more than those, I was raised as a practitioner of my tribal beliefs, with its emphasis on Grandfather (the Creator), Grandmother (the Earth), and all the Helpers, Powers, and Persons that make up Nature, seen and unseen, and with loyalty to family and blood. I practice Druidry to reconnect with my Celtic ancestors and the way they knew the land; I learn about Asatru to connect with my Norse/Germanic ancestors and the way they understood the land.

I think that all indigenous traditions, and those new paths seeking to re-identify with those elder ways, have these three touchstones in common: the Creator (and/or the various gods, goddesses, and spirits), the land, and one's ancestors.

I don't think any of this is make-believe, or _simply_ postmodern reactions to a declining civilization (though it is a part, in my opinion). As my Cheyenne Uncle Herman Bear-Comes-Out here in Montana once told me: If something was ever true, it is always true. And those ways are still out there, in the land. You just have to go out there and look for them. The land and its spirits will teach you. Not only in Native American traditions of the vision quest, but even in Celtic traditions..."many tales survive in both the literary and oral traditions of Ireland which tell of Bards resorting to prehistoric burial mounds, and undertaking fasts upon them, or being taken into them, in order to obtain gifts of Faery wisdom or poetic inspiration" (pp. 58-59, "The Bardic Tradition and the Song of the Land" by Philip Shallcrass, in Philip Carr-Gomm's _The Druid Renaissance_).

Here are a couple of good videos about Asatru, the first about Asatru in Iceland (see below) and the second about Elves in Iceland.


Yard in Helena, Montana: 14 May, 2008

Now that the changes of spring are hurtling towards summer, these two months of May and June are the most beautiful months on Rodney Street and Broadway. I wanted to document some of the things I saw today in the yard of the big old house (built ca. 1880) in which I have my apartment.

The leaves and flowers on the old lilac bushes in the yard are almost fully emergent, and the blossoms are getting ready for their May and June blooms.

The yard has had dandelions in flower for about three weeks now, time enough for some already to have come into seed. I ate some leaves about a week ago, and they were already getting bitter.

The boxelder (left) and Siberian elm (right) trees are not far behind the lilacs on their buds bursting into leaves.

At the base of the elm, mushrooms have come forth in this damp and late spring. I don't know if these are edible, and I'm not going to try them without knowing.

Violets have not yet begun to bud, but they cluster along the base of the house in thick leafy carpets.

Deer too have begun to visit, this fresh pile of deer droppings only a few hours old near the lilacs in the back that separate our yard from the neighbors.