"Flipping" the calendar in the Southern Hemisphere & the Aldsidu reaction to a change in an Asatru
Since today is Winter Full Moon (or Winter Nights / Disablot / Haustblot / Winterfylleth), the most attested holiday in the Sagas and Scandinavian poems, it is a good day to write about the status of Historical Heathenry vs. Asatru. (Today is the Full Moon of Haustmanuthr, or Harvest Moon, on the Old Norse calendar, i.e. Winter Nights or Haustblot.) One of the major Asatru organizations had a "change" in September, the founder now has "less" of a role. This caused a lot of discussion on Facebook. In Aldsidu circles (Old Saxon Heathenry circles), no one (including myself) has mentioned this, until now (in this article.) The new Association for Historical Heathenry was completely silent on the matter. Historical Heathens are not out to bash Asatru in any way, shape, or form. This article will not attack Asatru either, nor any Asatru org, whether I agree or disagree with them. But it is nice to know that the various circles that started movements to divorce themselves from Asatru, chose to not discuss an Asatru org's major change. They looked at this as an Asatru issue. While this article will mention this, this article is more about the few in IMs who reached out to me asking to help "change an Asatru org." What I am saying is, several members of this Asatru org emailed or IM'd me, asking me to help "change it." However, it is not a Historical Heathen's job to try to change an existing Asatru org. It is one thing to write blogs with many historical passages (from Eddas, Sagas, monks, other historical writers, etc) who wrote about Heathens centuries ago. It is one thing to make posts on the www and Facebook and other social media sites trying to share the Old Ways to newbies or to anyone trying to learn. Historical Heathens know there is more inaccurate information than correct information on the www. This age is just as much a "disinformation age" as it is an "information age." It takes a true seeker, who really wants to learn the Old Ways, to take the time to sift through the historical sources to gain the education and experience to understand the differences between Old Ways Heathenry and Modern Asatru, and to determine what practices are made up modern invented ideas under the umbrella of Paganism, or foreign non-Germanic/Norse ways brought into Norse Heathenry or Germanic Heathenry. Someone posted on my page recently that the Norse Gods show up to Wiccan Sabbats. I was unsure how to respond to that comment at first, as the point of a Wiccan Sabbat is not to gain the presence of Odin and Thor for example. The point of the comment though was that I could not speak for the Gods. I do NOT speak for the Gods, nor Uurd and her Shapers (Norse Nornir.) However, I often do quote passages from historical sources about individuals and peoples who worthed themselves to the Gods in historical times. I cannot speak for the Gods, nor will I attempt to, but the Lore and historical sources make clear that worth was earned. Heathenry is NOT christianity, and the Gods just don't accept everyone because they have "faith in their hearts." Christianity is faith over deeds, Heathenry is the opposite, Deeds define who we are and what we believe. We LIVE our morals. If we think stealing is wrong, we do not rob banks. We DO what we believe. We are not "saved" by our mental "wants", i.e. our mental beliefs. While I do believe that different Pagan traditions should be united despite their differences, and should respect one another, this doesn't mean we should not form like minded communities separately, i.e. Historical Heathenry separating itself from Asatru's racism, and lack of study, and willful disdain of historical sources. Anyone who knows me knows that my pet peeve with Asatru is not that they disagree with me. It is those in Asatru circles who claim that modern Ways are Old Ways, or that because a Vikings TV show does it on the History Channel, it must be historical, without doing any research. Posting crap as fact is what drives us nuts, just as much as the racism. This being said, I will pubmoot with any good person, even if they are Wiccan, Asatru, Folkish, Universalist, or if they identify their gender as LGBTQAWCXDYZ. This doesn't mean I should try to change Asatruar. Often people say I am "divisive." I disagree. Sure, I think historical Heathenry is so different from modern Asatru, the two cannot venerate together. But this doesn't mean that one side should disrespect or try to change the other. This brings me back to my original thought. Some Historical Heathens want to see an Asatru org change. Fine. I respect that. But should historical Heathens be the agents of that change? If I and many others are annoyed with the Wiccan Invastion of Asatru, why should Historical Heathens jump in that raid? Just let them (Asatruar) be... "Change" is a difficult word. But it does happen. Here, when I am talking about change, I am talking about Asatru changing to adopt the historical ways, or the Old Ways. I do not see this change happening. Asatru has an "orthodoxy" now, and there is no getting around that. Yule on the Solstice and "Ostara" on the Equinox are Asatru's Xmas and Easter, and no where close to historical reality in terms of the Old Ways of the Norse and Germanic Tribes. Winter Nights, the most attested holiday in Scandinavian Sagas and Poems, no one in Asatru circles really knows what that is. If there is a tiny minority in those circles that do know what historical Winter Nights is, they certainly are not making a big enough impact. If they have acquired this knowledge, and they want to do the Old Ways, eventually, they will split from it on their own. Recently, a Facebook group with 27,000 members had a post about Winter Nights starting at Sundown on October 13th. There were so many people asking "What is Winter Nights?" This is the state of Modern Asatru. Today, I went to look at the Asatru Organization's website, to see what it stated about Winter Nights, those who told me that I was wrong, that they could change this organization, no change has yet happened. Some will say "Robert, it is only a month." That will soon turn into a quarter, and then a year, and then several years. People who want to date Winter Nights the same way the Wiccans date Samhain will continue to do that, and most will not call it "Winter Nights" but "Winter Finding" or even "Samhain" will be listed as a Norse holiday. No need for us to state "they are wrong." They technically are not wrong. If they want to venerate Odin on Xmas or Christ on Ramadan, or Thor on Passover, who are any of us to say they are wrong. When they claim this is historical practice, that is when we have the right to then give an educated reply and evidence well footnoted proving our point. This organization replaced their founder with a Wiccan individual, who has a Wiccan Priestess as a wife, who states clearly he doesn't have much knowledge of Norse Heathenry. It is kind of like electing Donald Trump or Ross Perot as President. Or making someone a Rabbi who has very little knowledge of Judaism. But that is the way of Asatru. When Asatruar make statements that their movement is not Wicca, well, the reply is what you would expect from Historical Heathens. But honestly, no reply is even needed. Asatru will be Asatru, and Historical Heathenry will be Historical Heathenry. These are two paths, that simply must remain separate, but respectful of one another. One way that Asatru follows Wicca that I have not discussed, is flipping the calendar. I see some "Happy Ostara in the southern Hemisphere" comments going on. First, this is not correct for several reasons. Anyone who knows historical Heathen dating and calendar keeping, knows that the Heathen year was divided into two seasons: Winter and Summer. And the two seasons were divided by midpoints: Midsummer and Midwinter. They would also know that Midsummer was not celebrated as a blot, unlike Mid-winter.
The Ynglinga Saga (chapter 8), from the year 1225, lists the three great blots of the year: “Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland… On winter day (first day of winter) there should be blot for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third blot should be on summer day, a Victory-blot.” In Old Norse, “Sigurblot” means “Victory-Blot.” Therefore, we have three major Norse blots a year, that appear in the context of Ynglinga Saga (and other references) that were done publicly at Uppsala. Those with historical time-keeping knowledge of historical Heathenry, know that about (on average) one of every three lunar years has a lunar leap year, when the summer doesn't have six moons, but seven moons. They know that Yule is on the first full moon after the first new moon after the Winter solstice. And to keep this in alignment, about once out of every three years, a moon is added to summer. Bede states in De Temporum Ratione, Ch 15 (725 AD): "The division of the year though was into two seasons: Winter and Summer. Summer comprising six (or seven) moons when the days were longer than the nights, and winters six moons when the nights were longer than the days. Thus, the moon by which they began their winter season was called “Winterfylleth”, a name compounded of the terms for winter and full moon, because from the full moon of that month winter was thought to begin." Bede also states: "When however, an embolism occurred, that is, a year of thirteen lunar months, they added the intercalated moon to the summer." Therefore, we have some summers with seven moons, and therefore, the southern hemisphere "flip" cannot always be the "opposite" of the Northern Hemisphere. The other issue I have, is that if Norsemen not only discovered America, but South America, would they then celebrate "Yule" on a July Full Moon in Columbia? I really do not think they would. First, it is illogical. A person in Iceland has so little January sunlight and freezing cold that native people in Columbia cannot begin to comprehend. Seeing pictures of blots for Yule in June in Australia shows people wearing shorts, and they barely notice a difference in the weather between summer and winter in Australia. Yule is about a dark time in Iceland and Scandinavia, and Northern Europe, when there is extreme cold and so little daylight, you can't really compare the weather in Columbia, Australia, or Argentina with Iceland and Scandinavia. And again, if Lief Erikson discovered South America, I don't think he would have moved Yule six or seven moons forward or backwards. He would remember in January that his ancestors in January in Iceland and Norway in the past, suffered and survived freezing cold IN JANUARY, in winter in the North. And in terms of this calendar flipping idea that Wicca does, Asatru just simply adopted Wicca's practice. Asatru must prove this. And the burden of proof is not on me, but on the people making the claim that the calendar should "flip" in the southern hemisphere for Norse Heathens. It is on them to prove if Historical Heathens would have reacted this way to that. Some now say "but we live in a modern world." Yes, I know, but this doesn't mean we should take Odin's spear and make it a machine gun, or Thor's Hammer and change it to a nuke. The Old Ways are the Old Ways, and ways that were done in the past. You can't make things up and claim it is the Old Ways. You can still do old practices in modern clothing in our modern backyards, forests, and modern world. Calendar flipping is not an Old Ways practice, but a modern one. Germanic Heathens did not discover South America. (And PS, today is Leif Erikson Day, or Columbus Day as well, so the topic is a relevant one.) If you are an Old Ways Saxon Heathen, please join us on Facebook in Saxon Heathenry. If you are an Old Ways Germanic Heathen, please join us on Facebook in the Association for Historical Heathenry.