Pagan Blog Project: Elder Futhark

Okay, I won’t lie, this post’s connection to the letter E is pretty tenuous. A more appropriate title would be “My messy and complicated relationship with my ancestors in the North and South.” I guess there are a few E’s in there.

Anyway, I have a funny relationship with the Norse gods and Asatru. On the one hand, I have no interest in becoming a Heathen. I’m quite happy as a Reclaiming Witch and Kohenet wannabe. On the other hand, a good chunk of my ancestors were Finland Swedes, so I can’t shut off the part of me that feels drawn to exploring my heritage. Odin and Freja are two of the deities that I feel drawn to and want to have a relationship with, and I feel like that pull is my ancestors speaking to me.

But the Finland Swedes are a funny category. According to my mom, my relatives spent an inordinate amount of energy insisting they were Swedish. They couldn’t stop talking about how absolutely Swedish they were! They ate smörgåsbords and everything! No one in the younger generation really knew what to make of their self-absorption–yes, they were Swedish, they spoke Swedish, what was the issue!?–until it came out that they’d actually emigrated from Vasa. So were they Swedish or Finnish? Sweden colonized Finland for a long time, so they might have originally been settlers. But when I asked a Finnish friend of mine what he thought, his answer was unequivocal: Finland Swedes are Finnish. He thought it was funny that my relatives had denied it so much.

My craft name, Asa, means “of the Æsir” in Swedish. (In Swedish it’s written Åsa, pronounced “Aw-sah.”) I didn’t choose this name. It came to me, and at first I didn’t like it very much, but I reluctantly accepted it before I looked up the meaning. You can’t tell me that’s not a sign.

I know this post is rambling and barely coherent. Partly I just wanted to get a PBP post off before Friday ended. If this post has a main point at all, it’s this: humans are a species that has been mixing and blending since the very beginning. And I firmly believe it’s my birthright to explore the traditions of all my ancestors, even if that exploration doesn’t fit a certain mold. (If I sound defensive, it’s because I’ve had to put up with a lot of exclusionist bullshit on my Jewish side. In the Jewish community, purebloods are not kind to mudbloods like me.)

So, I’m learning the runes. The Younger Futhark, to be precise. (I know, the title of this post is even more tenuous now.) They’ll probably never be a centerpiece of my magic or my Paganism, but I’m hoping that I can incorporate them into my practice in some meaningful way.

So far, I’ve dialed Odin and Freja a few times and they haven’t picked up. Maybe they only talk to full-on Heathens, I don’t know. But if they’re ever interested in talking, I’ll be listening, eclectic but faithful. I’ll do whatever work they request of me.

May all your ancestors bless you in your practice.

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