In the beginning

A long time ago in a galaxy we now call home there was a void of nothing. On one side of the void was fire, on the other side ice. The fire melted the ice near the void and water dripped into it and so Ymir the first giant was born.  As the ice melted more a cow named Audhumla came out of it. She fed Ymir her milk and fed herself by licking salt from the ice.

From Ymirs armpits more giants were born and from the ice that Audhumla licked the first Aesir god was born. He was named Buri and he married Bestla, the daughter of one of the armpit giants.  Their half god half giant sons were Odin, Ve and Vili.

As time went on the sons grew up and became bored with the great void of nothing, as kids do, and decided to create a world.  They wondered what they could build this new world with. Just as they were thinking about this problem they heard a great rumbling snore…….. it was Ymir sound asleep.  They looked at one another and nodded in agreement, they would kill Ymir and make a world from his blood, bones, skin, hair and muscle. His skull became the sky and was held up over the world by four dwarves, North, East, South and West.

After a time Odin, Ve and Vili made the first man and woman from two tree trunks and brought them to life to live in their new world which was now called Midgard. They named these first humans Ask and Embla and that is the story of how Midgard / Earth was made.

Written by Jane Jackson

 

Fire

At the beginning of the world there was bear. Bear owned fire and tended to its needs and kept it fed. In return fire warmed bear and his people on cold nights.

One day bear came to a great forest full of tasty acorns, so he put fire down at the edge of the forest, and proceeded to eat the acorns.

Gradually bear and his people wandered deeper and deeper into the trees, hunting out more and more tasty acorns.

After some time fire got hungry and called out to bear ‘feed me!’ but bear and his people were too far away to hear, so fire called out again, but louder this time ‘FEED MEEE!! please?’

But it was no use. Fire started to dwindle to small embers and get weak. Just when it was looking like the end of fire forever along came man.

‘Hello?’ said fire in a weak voice.

‘Hello’ said man.

‘I’m hungry’ said fire. ‘Can you feed me?’

‘I don’t know what you eat’ said man. For man had never seen fire before.

‘I eat sticks and logs and woods of all kinds’ replied fire.

So man gathered up some small pieces of wood. He placed the wood at the North side and the south side, the west side and finally the east. Fire flickered orange and blue, growing taller and brighter.

Man went off into the forest to gather some larger pieces for fire and fed them to it. Fire leaped and danced with delight.

Man continued to feed fire and warm himself by the heat of fire, watching the dancing flames. Man and fire were very happy together and man fed fire whenever it got hungry.

A long time later, bear and his people returned from their forage in the forest, looking for fire.

But fire was angry and hissed at bear and said ‘I do not know you!’ Fire blazed so brightly that bear had to shield his eyes with his paws.

‘You left me to go hungry and nearly die, but man saved me.’

Fire roared and flared at bear, the heat sending bear and his people fleeing into the forest.

And ever since then fire has belonged to man.

 

Baugi’s journey to Asgard

Once upon an old road, there was a giant named Baugi. One day while on his travels, he decided to be done with the Gods for good. He formulated a plan to bury Asgard under a pile of rocks and soil.

So he stole a huge sack from a nearby farm and got to work filling it with rocks, soil and anything else he could get his hands on.

It was quite a long journey to Asgard and Baugi wasn’t one for paying too much attention, and so, here’s the thing – he got lost.

Luckily there was a man walking towards him, so he stopped him to ask directions. He was an old looking man with white hair, a long beard and appeared to be blind in one eye.

‘excuse me, sir’ said Baugi, I’m looking for Asgard, am I heading the right way?’

The man looked down at the holes in his boots and back up at the Baugi

‘You know’ he said ‘I’ve been looking for Asgard for quite some time myself. I forget how long, but my beard was black at the time I began my journey.

This threw Baugi into a rage and so he dumped his sack at the side of the road, and stormed off, leaving the old man alone.

Odin shook his head and laughed to himself ‘giants are too easily fooled’.

The marriage of Njord and Skadi

The Gods were celebrating. Idun had returned to the hall and the giant Thjazi had been slain. This called for a great feast and celebration. There was mead and meat, cake and balloons. Well…maybe not balloons, but you get the idea.

Thor was on his 11th horn of mead when the doors to the hall burst open, and in stormed a giantess, armed to the teeth with as many weapons as she could carry. It was Skadi, come to seek revenge for the death of her father, Thjazi.

Thor was up and ready, mjolnir in hand. But Loki stood between them.

‘Skadi. Beautiful, young Skadi. Come, have a drink with us. Join the party’ said Loki.

‘Why would I do that?’ Asked Skadi ‘You killed my father’

‘Yes, that was a..er, misunderstanding. We have a gift….GIFTS for you though’

‘Gifts? For me? No one ever gives Skadi gifts

Odin stepped forward, holding out his hands, open palmed, revealing Thjazi’s eyes. He cast them into the sky, where they became two stars, forever shining in the night sky. ‘Your father will forever be looking down, and watching over you.’

Next up several attempts were made by a number of the gods to make Skadi laugh, but she looked much less than impressed. That was until Loki grabbed a rope, tied one end to a goat and the other end to his, erm… manhood. What followed was one of the most painfull games of tug of war that anyone has ever witnessed. Loki screamed and howled as he pulled and pulled until finally, he landed in Skadi’s lap.

Skadi snorted, then sniggered, before falling onto the floor in fits of laughter.

‘Right’ said Odin. ‘One last gift. You can marry one God, of your choosing’.

‘I choose Baldur then’ said Skadi

‘Not so fast, Skadi. I wasn’t finished. A God of your choosing – but you must pick by his feet alone’.

This will be easy thought Skadi, I can easily choose Baldur and his beautiful feet. ‘Fine’ she said.

The Gods all hid behind a curtain, with just their feet visible along the bottom.

One set of legs stood out from the rest. Beautiful, manly, muscular legs. ‘It’s him, my beautiful Baldur’ cried Skadi.

But it wasn’t. It was the sea god Njord.

‘You tricked me!’ cried Skadi

‘Be wise with yours words Skadi. You wouldn’t want your marriage to get off on the wrong FOOT’ laughed Loki.

And so it was that Skadi the giantess married Njord, god of the sea. They lived for a while at Skadi’s home in the mountains. A place named Thrymhelm. But Njord could not stand the long, cold, dark nights. Most of all he loathed the sounds of the wolves howling in the night. And besides he missed his home beside the sea.

And so they moved to Noatun, Njords home beside the sea. But Skadi hated the cries of the seas birds, the warm, sunny weather and longed for her home in the mountains.

Eventually they agreed to disagree and went their separate ways.

Heathen pathways by Craig Brooks

Our Heathen Pathways series aims to tell the stories of how ordinary heathens found their practice and who their influences are. If you would like to contribute send us a message via the contact page 🙂

Why would an atheist choose to be an Asatru/heathenry follower? I get asked about this quite a lot, and I’ll be honest – I’m still not sure I know the answer myself. I struggled to understand it when my wife joined AUK, as an atheist, I couldn’t help but wonder, why?

I’ll start at the beginning;

We were headed for the ‘London by Norse’ event to see Wardruna. Emma mentioned that a few AUK people were meeting in the pub beforehand, and wondered if we could pop along. I had no idea what Asatru or AUK was at this point, but I’m not against a trip to the pub.

Whilst there, we met lots of people, who we now consider to be great friends. The thing with being an atheist, is its quite lonely. It’s not really the sort of thing people meet up for, so this was the first tick for me.

Now, I already had an interest in the only things most heathens can agree on – Wardruna, mead (I was already home-brewing) and fire. So instantly found I clicked with this group.

Returning home, I puzzled for some days over my wife being an atheist, whilst being in this group. Whilst I still question it occasionally, I’m mostly OK with it. If fate brought me to this group, it’s also the reason we run Wiltshire heathens, and wrote a cookbook for AUK ((£7.99 on Amazon ;)). Life can bring us many opportunities, for whatever reason, we just have to choose to follow them.

So as atheists why do we sumbel and blot? To take a moment, remember, and give thanks for the things that we are fortunate to have – good mead, food, family, friends, and our health. And who hasn’t made a toast to their passed loved ones at some point, heathen or not?

Whilst we don’t actively believe in the physical aspects of the Gods themselves, we enjoy the old stories and the history. There is a lot to be learned from them.

But the thing we enjoy the most? A sense of belonging, a kin – and with this, a sense of respect and love for each other and our environment. We actively get outside a lot more than we used to and travel around the country attending events and visiting friends.

That night at ‘London by Norse’ changed our lives – little did we know at the time, we came home with a daughter. I can’t say I believe in fate, but if the Norns exist, they weaved us a path into Asatru, and towards a little girl named Ocean.

Set me free

I did something different today. I visited the cemetery. A depressing place with row upon row of bodies. Many of which have been forgotten.

I never really got the point of visiting your departed loved ones there. I mean, if they do still exist as some kind of spirit, why would they hang around there?

It’s a plot of land with no relevance to the person in life, or death. The only reason they would have visited is to visit other dead people.

I went to visit my mother’s grave, among others, and I took my daughter, Ocean.

I have many happy memories of my Mum, alive, but only one of her at the cemetery, and that’s a sad one which involved her being buried, when I was 17. That’s not a good memory, so I mainly choose to stay away and honor her through talking about her and raising a glass.

I think it’s better to honor our ancestors this way and perhaps visiting locations from happy memories. A few come to mind for me, my childhood home, My Nan’s house, Cotswold wildlife park and holidays in Weymouth, Weston super Mare and in North Devon at Ilfracombe and Woolacombe.

When I die please don’t waste too much money on a burial plot and headstone. Turn my body into ashes and return me to the universe. Release me somewhere we have happy memories, that is easy to visit. West Kennet long barrow comes to mind.

Please don’t leave me in a cold and lonely graveyard with only occasional visitors, where I’ll eventually be forgotten.

Celebrate my life, raise a glass of mead and set me free upon the wind.