Friday, September 21, 2012

It's Not Always About the Gods

(Cross-posted at witchesandpagans.com)

One of the things that Théodish Belief stresses is that the Gods-- the Aesir-- are much more interested in human beings on a corporate level. That is, They hear us much more clearly when we join together in a chorus, rather than sending our voices up to Asgard singularly. This is the basis of the Théodish tribal structure, which allows us to worship the Aesir as a group, and have the Luck of the Aesir flow through the tribe via the tribal leader to the individual members of the tribe, through the "web of oaths".

That said, such tribe-wide gatherings and rituals are relatively few and far between. Individual tribal custom (thew) differs, but as a rule such large rituals-- called fainings-- are done three or four times a year.

Needless to say, that leaves a lot of time that can and should be filled with religious activity. But if the Aesir are mostly honored at the group level, where does that leave the Théodish individual or family? (Bearing in mind that this advice can apply to someone of just about any Pagan or Heathen faith.)

Certain individuals, of course, have special relationships with one or more Aesir, and are known as "friends of" a particular God or Goddess. This is well attested to in the written lore, and we see it in modern times as well. So even though in the Théodish model, the Aesir prefer to deal with humans in groups, They do make exceptions.

But such true exceptions are few and far between, which leaves a great many people wanting between major holy tides. As Théodish Belief leans towards the historical reconstructionist end of the Heathen spectrum, fortunately the written lore gives us plenty of examples. Most specifically, the worship of the land spirits (Old Norse landvættir, house gods (Swedish tomte, Norwegian nisse, English brownie), and other more specific spirits of place.

In my house, for example, we keep a stone by the hearth as a home for the house-god, and offer him a bowl of porridge every Yule. As head of the household, I make weekly offerings of "meat from my table and bread from my board" to the land-wights and elves.

Since these beings are closer to us, They are much more inclined to hear us individually and familially, and it is thus easier to enter into a good and fruitful relationship with Them. Establishing such a good relationship, and maintaining it throughout the year through simple and heartfelt rituals-- generally speaking simple is better, and you should have the attitude of maintaining a good relationship with friends and neighbors-- is an excellent way to maintain a connection with the divine, without the sometimes inappropriate pomp and circumstance of dealing with the Gods Themselves.

Personally, I find folklore to be an excellent guide. Stories of dealing with elves, brownies, trolls, and tomten are treasure-troves of practical advice, and have aided me immensely even though I am literally an ocean away from the land of their origin*. And, given that the goodwill of such beings can't always be taken for granted, warnings.

_____

* I am reminded of an newspaper advertisement that appeared in a late 19th century midwestern journal noted for its Scandinavian readership, seeking a house-spirit to keep company the house-spirit that had accompanied the family to the New World. Apparently, it was lonely and wanted companionship, and the family thought it would be quite likely that some other immigrant family would be able to oblige. I know of no record as to whether or not the request ever bore fruit.

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