Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Love of Your LIfe

Frey is an exceedingly famous god; he decides when the sun shall shine or the rain come down, and along with that the fruitfulness of the earth, and he is good to invoke for peace and plenty. He also brings about the prosperity of men.


'There was a man called Gymir whose wife Aurboða was of the family of cliff giants. Their daughter is Gerð, who is an exceedingly beautiful woman. One day when Frey had gone to Hliðskjálf and was looking out over the whole world, he looked towards the north and saw in one place a large and beautiful dwelling. To this house went a woman; and, when she raised her arms to open the door, they illuminated the sky and sea, and the whole world grew bright from her. So, for the presumption he had shown in seating himself on that holy seat, he paid by going away full of sorrow. When he came home, he neither spoke nor slept, nor did he drink anything, and no one dared to address him.

Njörð summoned Frey's chamberlain, Skirnir, and bade him go to Frey and ask him on whose account he was so angry that he would speak to no one. Skirnir said that he would go, but he was not eager and he said he expected an unpleasant answer from him. When he came to Frey, he asked him why he was so downcast that he would not speak with anyone. Then Frey replied, saying that he had seen a beautiful woman and on her account was so distressed that he would not live long if he could not obtain her. "And now you are to go" (he said), "and woo her for me and bring her here whether her father wishes it or not. I will reward you well for it." Skírnir answered saying that he would go on that errand but Frey was to lend him his sword, which was such a good one that it fought by itself Frey agreed to that and gave him the sword. Then Skírnir went and wooed the woman for him and obtained her promise that, nine nights later, she would come to a place called Barrey and there marry Frey. When, however, Skírnir told Frey the result of his mission, Frey said:

"One night is long, long is a second, how shall I three endure? shorter to me has a month often seemed than this half bridal-eve."

This was the reason why Frey had no weapon when he fought with Beli but killed him with a hart's horn.'

Then Gangleri said:
'It is very strange that a chieftain like Frey should give away a sword and leave himself without as good a one. It was a very great drawback to him when he fought with the man called Beli. Upon my word, he would regret his gift on that occasion.'

Then High One answered:
'It was a small affair when he and Beli met. Frey could have killed him with his bare hands. The time will come when Frey will find it worse to be with out a sword -- when the sons of Muspell ride out to harry.'

-Prose Edda

Click on the image above to see it at full-size.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How Brave Could you Be?

Tyr is a one-handed god,
and leavings of the wolf
and prince of temples.

According to the Lore, the gods decided to shackle the Fenrir the wolf because he threatened to eat all the worlds. The beast broke every chain they put upon him. Eventually the Gods had the dwarves make them a magical ribbon called Gleipnir. It appeared to be only a silken ribbon but was made of six wondrous ingredients: the sound of a cat's footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, bear's sinews, fish's breath and bird's spittle. Fenrir sensed the gods' deceit and refused to be bound with it unless one of them put his hand in the wolf's mouth. Tyr, known for his great wisdom and courage, agreed, and the other gods bound the wolf. After Fenrir had been bound by the gods, he struggled to try to break the rope. When the gods saw that Fenrir was bound they all rejoiced, except Tyr, who had his right hand bitten off by the wolf. Fenrir will remain bound until the day of Ragnarök. As a result of this deed, Tyr is called the "Leavings of the Wolf"; which is to be understood as a poetic kenning for glory.

It begs the question as to how brave are you on behalf of your Folkway. Do you live openly as a heathen? What are you willing to risk in order to safeguard your family, your kindred, and your close friends? Do you stand up for yourself and your Folk against all threats, including those that would harm emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually?

Click on the image above to see it in all its glory. :-)

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Banner Regarding Sacrifice

I know where Othin's eye is hidden,
Deep in the wide-famed well of Mimir;
Mead from the pledge of Othin each morn
Does Mimir drink: would you know yet more?

It is said that Odin's eye rests in the well of Mimir...and that Odin traded his eye for just one drink from the wisdom-rich waters of that well. What work will you do for wisdom? How hard will you work and what will you sacrifice of yourself to attain it?

Click on the image to see it in all its glory.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

New Heathen Gods Banner

A free resource website for all asatruars and heathens. 

Click on the image to see it in all its glory.
Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Monday, November 28, 2011

Apologies Have a Time and a Place

Do apologies have any value to modern heathens?  In the simplest of terms, the vast majority of heathens believe that a meaningful apology that includes heartfelt regret, dedicated action to fix or mitigate the harm that was done, and a commitment not to cause the same harm again is a worthy approach to correcting harm you have done to another.  The majority of heathens also believe very strongly that just saying "sorry" or expressing other regretful words without actually fixing a serious harm you have caused is an empty approach, and has little worth.  Often, those that offer hollow apologies are likely to cause the same harm over and over again, because they have invested nothing in actually correcting their past harmful actions.

In transitioning from the modern majority culture in which we were raised to cultural values and a way of life based on the beliefs of our heathen Ancestors, there is always the risk of going too far. An area where heathens sometimes miss the mark, is in the area of apologies and correcting harm they have done to another.  There are heathens that simply refuse to ever say the word "sorry" or offer what most people would regard an apology, regardless of the context.  These heathens will offer to correct wrongs they have caused, but almost as a matter of principle they will very pointedly say, "But I'm not going to apologize for what I did."


Our heathen ancestors and most modern heathens believe that if you cause harm to another person, simply stating a verbal apology does not truly make up for the harm you have done.  To truly make up for harm you have done either intentionally or accidently, you must seek to reverse or mitigate the harm you have done.  In order to preserve the honor of everyone involved, it is appropriate for the one who did harm to approach the harmed party, and offer Shyld (obligation) for the harm you have done.  When the harmed party agrees to an appropriate Shyld and the harming party has paid the Shyld, then the matter is settled.  Honor is restored.  Both parties can move beyond it.

Shyld can take many forms.  If you have said something harmful and false about a person in public, Shyld might consist of publicly denouncing what you previously said, admitting you were wrong, and publicly declaring the truth.  If you have caused a problem between two people, Shyld might consist of bringing those two people together and making things right.  If you have damaged something belonging to someone else, Shyld might consist of paying for that item or replacing it.  There are times when Shyld might consist of a monetary payment or gift of value given to the harmed party in order to fulfill the obligation that is owed in return for the harm that was done. 

Often, you can tell when someone is a new heathen or when someone does not quite understand the concept of Honor and Shyld, when they expect a simple apology to make up for a serious harm they have caused.  These new heathens will often be completely shocked that a simple "I'm sorry" doesn't make up for what they have done.  This most likely occurs because the modern majority culture teaches the importance of both seeking and giving forgiveness.  "Repent and you shall be forgiven."  As a reaction against these often worthless verbal apologies and the beliefs of the majority culture, you will sometimes hear heathens espousing the point of view that one should never apologize.  You'll sometimes hear them brag about "never saying the word sorry."  But this reaction against apologizing in any form misses the point of apologizing, and what it means when you apologize properly and with meaning and action to back your words.

An apology is an acknowledgement that you have caused harm, and that you feel regret as to the harm you have caused.  Apologies have their time and place.


You bump into someone.  You sit in someone else's chair on accident.  You say something mildly insensitive to someone.  You get in someone's way going through a doorway.  You reveal something minor about someone in front of the wrong person.  You arrive 10 minutes late for an appointment.  You make any small mistake.

These errors, slips-of-mind, or accidents are fairly inconsequential.  In most cases, there is very little harm to fix and it is hardly worth negotiating a Shyld to settle the matter.  But, there is still a value to acknowledging the error, the slip-of-mind, or the accident and expressing regret that it occurred.  A failure to acknowledge the minor harm you caused and your regret that it happened, is likely to cause a bigger problem with the harmed party than the original minor harm initially caused.   In these cases, saying sorry serves to move both the harmed party and the harming party beyond the small harm that was done without making a mountain out of a molehill.


Friends, relatives, and other loved ones share bonds of trust and understanding that make them part of an inner circle or "Innangarth."  These understandings play a role in resolving situations where harm has been caused between loved ones.  Depending on the context of the harm done, this can work in two ways.

First, we give friends and loved ones a certain amount of latitude or the benefit of the doubt. For this reason, harm that might require Shyld from a stranger may sometimes be resolved between loved ones with a simple apology.  Especially if the harm done was the first incident of that type between the harmed party and the harming party.

On the other hand, the relationships between friends, relatives, and other loved ones are immensely important and worth going the extra-mile to preserve.  So even if a simple apology might resolve a matter between loved ones, there are times when it is advisable to both apologize and perform Shyld to correct the harm you've done.


We live in a majority culture that does not always understand our heavy emphasis on "correcting the harm we've done" rather than just saying "sorry."  Many of our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and even family that are not heathen would rather hear the word "sorry," than have the harm fixed by you.  This is a cultural, and in some cases, religious belief on their party.  So, while it may be worth it for you to attempt to educate them about your own views on the subject, there are times where a verbal apology really is the only Shyld (obligation) that the harmed party will accept.

As a heathen, your personal honor may require that once you have offered this sought-after verbal apology, you then voluntarily take actions to fix or mitigate the harm you have caused, even though the harmed party does not require it of you.  In this way you preserve your own beliefs and way of life, while still functioning effectively within a majority culture that does not entirely understand your point-of-view.  On the other hand, if you take the overly rigid position that "I never say the word sorry," you are likely to unnecessarily lose friends, jobs, and other important things in your life.


I think this is the area where a verbal apology plays its most valuable role.  There is no harm at all in acknowledging the harm you have done and expressing regret that it occured by saying "sorry" or "I apologize," just prior to offering Shyld to mitigate the harm you have done.  Actually, your expression of verbal regret is helpful in putting the Shyld you are offering into context for the harmed party.  If your expression of regret is heartfelt, meaningful, and respectful then the negotiation of Shyld and the chances of putting the matter completely behind you is greatly increased.  It goes without saying though, that this verbal apology is simply an introduction to your offer of Shyld and not a replacement for the Shyld you owe for the harm you have done.


Empty verbal apologies are almost always hollow and worthless.  A verbal apology for a serious harm you have caused is rarely, if ever, sufficient.  But there is a time and a place for verbal apologies, and a rigid, "I never say the word sorry" approach removes an important and meaningful tool in human interaction.  Minor matters, harms caused between loved ones and friends, and situations involving people still fully immersed in the majority culture are sometimes best resolved with a simply offer of regret over what happened.  And a verbal expresion of regret offered as a prelude to offering Shyld is an effective way of connecting with the person with which you wish to reconcile.  As it is with so many other topics, the issue of whether or not a heathen should verbally apologize is much more complicated than some would make it, and is heavily dependent on the context of the situation and the seriousness of the harm that was done.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Want to Hold Your Own Milk Challenge?

There are things you do purely for the fun of it.  Other things you do because you are competative.  Some things you do out of utter boredom.  Our kindred's tradition of holding an annual milk challenge is motivated by all three.

It is nice having the day after Thanksgiving off from work, but it is one of those days where there is just nothing really to do.  I know, I is Black Friday and there is all that shopping...but who the heck wants to be out in that mess, elbowing their way through crowds and crowds of moron sheep-like consumers?

So, in 2009...Craig Winkler and I challenged the rest of Jotun's Bane Kindred to a milk challenge the day after Thanksgiving.  The rules established were fairly simple, and remain the rules today.  The winner is whomever can drink an entire gallon of milk in one hour's time, and hold it down for 5 minutes.  In the event that no one is able to drink and hold down a full gallon of milk in an hour, then whomever pukes the farthest is declared the ultimate champion...

I know, it sounds ridiculous.  It sounds like something some fraternity somewhere would do;  and perhaps it lacks the seriousness and dignity that we normally reserve for ourselves as responsible adults.  But, despite all is enormously fun, competative, and everyone's sides hurt from laughing when it is all over.  And, knowing our can imagine the odd challenges and contests they would have engaged in during the long winters...just to stave off the boredom.

Organizing your own milk challenge with your kindred or among your friends is fairly easy, and this little essay will give you some pointers if you are interested.


Choose a day that your kindred or friends can be there.  The Friday after Thanksgiving is perfect, but any old day will work.  This is definitely an outdoor event, and not something you do in you home.  LOL.  Now it is time to recruit the participants.  If you, as the organizer, aren't going to probably won't have much luck recruiting participants.  As long as you are participating, you only have to convince, challenge, or goad one other person into joining in to make this work.  Of course, the more folks that participate, the bigger the spectacle and the more fun you'll have.  But, as long as two of you are doing are in business.

You know your fellow kindred members and friends better than me, so you'll have to use your best judgement on how to get some of them to participate.  Some will participate, just because you are doing it.  Some will participate in response to a challenge from you.  And some of your kindred members and friends will have absolutely no interest in participate...but they'll be all fired up to show up and watch!  The more folks that show up to watch and laugh along with you during the event, the more fun you'll have.


Part of the fun of the milk challenge is putting way too much work into the field of battle.  For ours, we line up enough chairs for everyone that will be participating.  Take into consideration the direction of the wind, and put the wind to the back of the participants.  It is just common sense to put the wind at their back, but it is worth mentioning.

Using a tape to measure distance and a board to ensure the lines are straight, we use spray paint to paint on the lawn the sporting field.  There is a line every foot of distance from the front legs of the row of chairs.  We usually paint 9 lines out from the front legs of the row of chairs, just in case someone manages to vomit 9 feet in distance during the challenge.

The painted distance lines make measuring the puking distance much much easier.  Plus, it just look cool and increases the spectacle of it all.  We assign a spotter or two, to judge the distance each participant hits.  The spotters should be off to the side of course. 

We've done the milk challenge with whole milk, egg-nog, and this year we used chocolate milk.  Whatever you end up drinking for the challenge, it is important it is a dairy product...and don't use some watery dairy product like skim milk.  That would just violate the whole spirit of the event.  Don't involve alcohol in any way, shape, or form.  And agree to all drink the same exact thing.  As the organizer, you can provide the milk for the challenge, or you can have everyone BYOM (bring your own milk).  We've always gone with the BYOM option because its just easier.


The milk challenge lasts for an hour at most.  And I'm fairly sure that none of our milk challenges have lasted more than a half-hour.  And despite all the puking, most of the participants feel fine just 10 or 20 minutes after the end of the challenge.  So, plan something for after the milk challenge.  Make some food or order pizza for your guests.  Have a movie night, a game night, or some other fun thing your kindred or friends typically do when they get together. 

Don't plan anything serious after the milk challenge.  The event is so full of laughter, that attempting to calm everyone down for an intellectual exercise like a study group session after the milk challenge would be pretty counter-productive.  Just plan something fun afterward.


We've had three annual milk challenges so far, and we'll have our 4th next year, the day after Thanksgiving as usual.  We'll invite some heathens that are friends with our kindred.  And I suspect we'll have more participants next year than ever before.

If you schedule your own milk challenge, let us know how it goes.  Send me a message or an email with a link to the photos or the video.  Here are links to photos and videos from our past milk challenges:

2009 Milk Challenge Photos:
2009 Milk Challenge Video:
2010 Milk Challenge Photos:
2011 Milk Challenge Photos:
2011 Milk Challenge Video:  Coming Soon...

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods