Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Role Of The Gothar In The Asatru Community

The Role Of The Gothar In The Asatru Community Cover The old norse word "Gothar" is the plural form of Gothi or Gythia. The Gothar are the collective priesthood of the Asatru Community. Proper pronunciation in Old Norse is: Gothar (go-thar). It literally means: those who speak the godly tongue.

We know from many surviving ancient accounts that the Gothar played a pivotal role in the founding of Iceland and the development there of a system of government known as the Godic Republic. This ancient method of self government was known as the AlThing. At the AlThing the Gothar of the 36 districts of Iceland met annually to read the Law, settle disputes among the Folk, and mete justice to law breakers.

This concept of self rule has been practiced since antiquity by the people of the North. We will deal in greater detail in a future article titled "The AlThing", but here we will discuss the role of the Gothar in the contemporary Asatru Community.

In ancient times, as we know from the writings of Tacitus in The Agricola and The Germania, the Teutons worshipped their Gods and goddesses in holy groves and by sacred springs and rivers. Tribal priests and priestesses presided in these matters. We learn from Adam of Bremen of the great Temple of Uppsala, where great public Blots were held, again presided over by the Temple Priests. There are also numerous Saga accounts of the Hofs maintained by the priests for public worship in Norway and Iceland.

From all of this we learn that there were people who specialized in conducting public worship of the Gods and Goddesses. They were also responsible for establishing Hofs and Temples, and maintained the equipment and furnishings necessary to conduct Blots and other religious services. In the days of the Godic Republic, the Gothar was also responsible for the civil administration of the country as well.

In modern times, as the Asatru Community struggles to reassert itself as the true religion of the Folk, the work of the Gothar is difficult indeed. Not only is it his or her duty to conduct the Blots, maintain the Hofs and sacred groves and provide the ritual equipment, but he or she must also seek out those within our Folk worthy to practice the old ways, and to reawaken the Ancestral Soul of our people, which is weak and near death after a thousand years of Christian pollution.

The true Gothar of the modern era must be a fearless spiritual warrior, a fervent Asatru missionary. They must be as wise as the AllFather, as strong as Asa Thorr, and as loving as the Lady Freya, if they are to succeed in their chosen profession. In short, only the bravest, wisest, and most loving of our Folk can ever aspire to the position of Gothi or Gythia. Nothing less than total dedication and personal sacrifice to our cause will do. Anything less will result in failure. If you are a dabbler in the Northern mysteries, a crystal poking Norse Wiccan, or someone who lives in a fantasy world, please go far away and do everyone a favor. For the rest of you who have a sincere desire, a burning will, and a constitution of iron, we will proceed. In Vor Tru No. 52 not only did we discuss the significance of the Blot, we examined the actual mechanics for performing public sacrifice, and we discussed also the part that the Gothi and Gythia played in such religious services of the Folk. I urged all who have the desire to perform Blots to do so whether privately at home with the family, or publicly in the sacred places with the Kindred. The person who performs the Blot, is at that place and time a Gothi. However, it is what you do for the Folk after the Blot which determines whether you are indeed a member of the Gothar, one who has earned the respect of the Asatru Community as a tireless and fearless spiritual leader of the Folk, and one who constantly strives to improve himself through constant study and practice of the lore of our people. Indeed, are you one who has earned the respect and admiration of the Folk because of your tireless efforts in their behalf?

At this point, let's assume that you aspire to become one of the Gothar. Where do you begin? I will start by saying that I have known more than a few who wished to become a Gothi. My best advice at this time is to urge them to find a recognized Gothi, and somehow convince the Priest of the Folk to become his apprentice. You must realize at this point in time that many may choose to walk this path, but by the process of natural selection, few will attain their goal. If you find a Gothi to aid you in your studies, you are fortunate to have that aid in your quest. If you personally don't know anyone of the Gothar, don't despair. You can teach yourself. THEY DID!

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Friday, May 4, 2007

In The Beginning Was The Wyrd

In The Beginning Was The Wyrd Cover True to form the Christ people placed the birth of their God at the time of the birth of the sun - the Winter Sunstead - their version being a word-play - 'birth of the son', the son of God. Even before this the Judaic Old Testament uses a clever word play to twist the concept of Wyrd, for Genesis maintains: "In the beginning was the Word". It maintains of course that the Word was God.

What is the origin of the term 'word'? 'Word' in modern German is 'wurt', but in Old High German the word 'wurt' meant Wyrd. To emphasise this point the Old Saxon for 'Wyrd' was 'Wurd', phonetically' similar to 'word'. The Norse word for Wyrd is Orlog, which is literally 'primal layers' or 'primal word'. The last part '-log' is the same as the Latin for 'word': we still use the word 'log' for a book of record, or of records of any kind. So we, as Heathens, are safe to say - IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WYRD.

And so it must be that the Cosmic Mind existed before all things. The Cosmic Mind must have been there in order that Creation could take place. Even certain sections of modern science have turned full circle and ditched the idea of a mechanical universe in favour of the idea of the universe being more like a vast thought-pattern. So what is the Wyrd and how are its workings?

To answer this question we can only scratch at the surface, for only a part of Wyrd can be comprehended at a time. But we can get slight hints at the workings of Wyrd. Orlog has its similarity to a Flemish-Dutch word 'oorlog' which means 'war'. I am led to believe that the word 'war' is an Indo-European root word meaning: 1.To will/choose; 2. To speak; 3. To wind or turn.

These words and meanings seem to have little link, and not much with Wyrd, until we contemplate their word-association. 'To will' hints at the Will of Wyrd - that which is, and that which is to be - evolution - for Wyrd is ever evolving and changing. 'To speak', of course, gives us the 'word', which is touched upon in the first paragraph here. "To wind or turn' is associated with change, with evolution, and also 'wind' is to spiral. Scientists now consider the universe to be a vast spiral.

War is seeming conflict, but not so if we look-closely at it, for war can have very strange results. The same with Wyrd, for on the surface the Cosmos appears to be a war of opposite - Light and Dark, Day and Night, Summer and Winter, Hot and Cold, Fire and Ice. But not really so, for because those are the totality of Wyrd, they are in truth harmonious. 'It is this harmony of opposites which causes the eternal process of Birth-Life-Death to Rebirth, of Creation-Preservation-Destruction to re-Creation. This process we call 'evolution' and this is the ever upward-growing spiral. Wyrd is in a constant state of flux and change.

The workings of Wyrd are contained within the symbolic system we call the Runes, each Rune being an aspect of Wyrd. We could say that the Runes are the Secrets of Wyrd and the secrets of nature in its entirety. The Runes existed in the beginning. It was Odin who learned of them by his sacrifice so that we may use them to aid us in our battle against those forces that seek to destroy the Wyrd..

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Thursday, May 3, 2007

God Heimdall

God Heimdall Cover Heimdall is the guardian of Asgard. He watches over the entrance, the Bifrost bridge, and uses his acute vision and hearing to watch and listen for danger. He will sound his horn, Gjallarhorn, at the start of Ragnarok. He is known to have fathered the classes of humanity. Heimdall is also called the White God, or the Bright God, for he is said to shine. He is the watchman of the gods, and stays mostly in his home Himinbjorg, next to the Bridge Bifrost, the way to Asgard, which he guards. He is a most faithful watchman, and is often rained on. He needs less sleep than a bird, can hear the grass grow all the way in Midgard, as well as the wool on sheep. He has a horn called Gjallarhorn, which he will sound when the giant-hordes approach and Ragnarok draws nigh. There are also scholarly arguments that say certain sources tell of a sacrifice Heimdall made similar to Odin's, where he sacrificed an ear for a drink from Mimir's well, which is how he got his hearing. This, if true, is such a close parallel with Odin that it may be that Heimdall is a well-developed heiti of Odin's, that has become an hypostasis. Heimdall, under the name Rig, also fathered the three races of man (thralls, or slaves, carls, or freemen, and jarls, or nobles). As such he is also a God of social order. He is also the only god other than Odin who is said to teach the runes. He would be called on by guards, police, and such like. He would also be called on by runic students as well as those who seek transcendence (as god of Bifrost, and possibly as god of social-climbing).

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