*Please note, these courses are always expanding; so if something isn’t offered here that you are looking for, simply reach out and ask!
- Teacher training.
- Legally recognized Godar Training and Initiation. https://theguildoffornsedhearthfire.com/godar-training/
- Networking, support and promotion of seiðr workers and their professional practice.
- The ability to teach as a Journeyman the full curriculum of The 21st Century Heathen reclaiming the Arts of seiðr.
- Continuing education specialty courses within Living Heathenry (both then and now) material from Masters.
- Tribal support as a Kindred and Guild.
Courses offered by both Master Teachers or Journeymen in Forn Sed Hearthfire:
Animism and its relationship to Living Heathenry; then and now.
Kveldulf Gundarsson in his essay “Mother Earth and her Children” suggests that “The ordinary Scandinavian of the Viking Age would probably go to the land-wights often, as to a neighbor [and] to the god/esses on feast-days and in times of need or thankfulness, as to a chieftain…,” which seems to support the efforts of kindreds in emphasizing the communal offerings to the gods while leaving the honoring of the lesser wights to individuals. The problem with basing our modern practice within Living Heathenry on this theory is the power that communities hold in establishing and transmitting tradition when the cultural context for ancient Heathenry has been completely lost since the conversion of Europe.
In communal ritual which includes foremost the Land we stand upon along with its intelligence, we are relearning how to think as Heathens, and when our rituals fail to address what was clearly an integral part of the ancient practice known as Animism, we never learn how to incorporate that into our lives outside of ritual.
“It was sunset, tonight was a full moon. A figure walked slowly through the forest. Leafless trees towered above him like a cathedral. The winds blew through the trees making them creak and speak. In the distance he could see it – the stone. The one with the holes in. This was the place he had felt the spirits for the first time many years ago. In his backpack he carried a small bottle of mead. As he approached the rock, he bowed his head gently. He knew he was in the presence of something sacred. Someone to be respected. “Good evening spirits”, he said, “May I approach?” At that moment an owl let out a toot toot from somewhere nearby. He took that as permission to approach and knelt down in front of the rock. He gazed up at the beautiful colours in the evening sky and smiled. He thanked the spirits and, removing the bottle of mead from his rucksack, he raised it above his head. “Hail spirits of this land. I honour you with this gift,” he said. He poured some mead into the hole in the rock and knelt there in respectful silence for a moment. “Grant me your aid and blessings in my life,” he asked. After a few minutes, he stood and turned to walk slowly away. The sun was just going down below the horizon. “Thank you spirits,” he whispered as he walked back to the forest path and continued on his way.
Let’s start this blog by getting down to the basics so that we have a firm foundation to build on in the rest of our research. That foundation is understanding exactly what Paganism is, the components that make up a Pagan worldview and why we might want to build our own “local paganism” rather than simply adopting a system that we read about in history.
Some might say that if you ask 10 Pagans to define Paganism you’ll get 11 answers. And anyone who tries to define it will invariably miss someone out. Well probably, but I think we should try anyway. One particularly useful description comes from the Pagan Federation. It defines Paganism as:
“A polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshipping religion.”
So a Pagan is someone who follows a pantheistic or polytheistic religion i.e someone who honours multiple spirits and/or nature. Underlying Polytheism in particular is the earliest form of human religion – Animism.”
Living Heathenry is based around four key principles that make up Paganism’s worldview. These are – Polytheism, Pantheism, Ancestor Veneration and Local Animism.
There are, however, a number of difficulties with developing and passing on the importance of animism to Heathenism today. Learning to honor the wights of Heathenry requires a huge amount of work – work more rooted in experiential learning than in academic research. And unless you are part of a spiritual community with others who are interested in spirit work, there is no one other than yourself who can contact the spirits you live with and teach you how to honor them. While there are general ritual forms and basic kinds of offerings in Heathen tradition that a practitioner can draw on, there are no established lists of names, no shrines beyond those we create ourselves, and no medieval Germanic myths about the spirits of your backyard, or the spirits of your own ancestors.
Animism calls us into a different kind of spiritual engagement than we are accustomed to. It requires an engagement with the mundane and the material that is foreign to modern Western spiritual philosophy with its devaluing of the physical in favor of the numinous. In order to ally yourself with the spirits of the land, you must spend time with the land – regardless of whether your land is an idyllic wilderness where you can garden and wander at will, or your land is a city street where you need to sift through the layers of human interference to find the landscape hidden beneath. You must spend time connecting with your family – either through living members, or through research of your own ancestry and cultural heritage – a difficult proposition in this age of fragmented and dysfunctional families. And you must connect with your mundane community. Talk to your neighbors, go to your historical society. Find out the names of the streams and mountains that you live on and next to. Find out who the heroes of your hometown were, who the first Western settlers were, and who the First Peoples were who lived there before the colonization of America. Connect, not just to your spiritual community, but your physical community as well.
Ultimately, the desire for these types of connections are at the core of the modern pagan movement. People are drawn to paganism because of its emphasis on the earth, the natural rhythms of the seasons, and the ideas of an older time when community was valued and supported, and family ties were strong. Connecting with the spirits of the land we live on, the spirits of our own family, and learning about the history of the places we live is the first step in achieving connection. For me, animism is the theology of connection, of moving beyond the theoretical archetypes that sometimes hinder our spiritual growth and interacting with the individual – the fire, river, water-well, stone and forest trees of all kinds.
This, of course, begs the question of how to interact with the beliefs of the indigenousness of our Ancestors and we modern folk – an issue we will help you learn and explore.
Storytelling Storycrafting: The Art and the Power of weaving an epic story; The Magic of the Skald.
You’ve been surrounded by stories all your life, but has anyone explained how they work?
Deep down you know that learning to write well is about more than manipulating words. It’s about learning to tell a great story.
Story is a language of emotion—like music. It operates by principles that strike at our shared humanity. That’s why it’s the main engine of Norse Practices in the form of the Edda’s and sagas. It’s the core language a Skald uses to speak truth across cultures and time.
As a student of the Skaldic path, you’ll learn the principles of storytelling. You’ll explore techniques for pulling your audience step-by-step into any story, but with an eye to the special demands of sacred tales, hidden meanings and skaldic magic. You’ll discover how to reveal truth through a story’s conflict and resolution instead of through a tacked-on or heavy-handed message. And you’ll experience what it means to rely on your kennings and your connection to (Urd) Wyrd as the source of your creativity.
Song Design Creating Emotions and Calling the Spirits…one note at a time.
Songs of seiðr Creation/Composition class will focus on several facets of music composition. Though composing music is an art form that requires years of discipline and experience, this class will give each student a solid introduction to understanding of some of the most basic, important elements of music composition within singing and ways to begin creating one’s own songs of seiðr immediately.
This course also will teach you how to develop your vocal skills to speak with nuance and power.
Work with both Ancient and modern techniques to explore non-standard “song” crafting is done. Explore the power of sound, how to emulate what sound does in nature, and how it all can be used to support the art of Spa, magic, and storytelling.
Sacred Pantomime: The True Art of Ritual and Its Power:
Today, the power of beautifully complex as well as elegantly simple rituals and ceremonies is lost due to 1500 years of being conditioned to handing our personal relationships with our Gods and Ancestors into the hands of monotheistic clergy.
Ritual and Ceremony is a form of Scared pantomime, and just as the space we use to interface with the otherworld’s are never the same, nor are the reasons why we gather to commune with the nine worlds.
There are many ways to do Scared pantomime, from weddings, to seeking guidance, blessings or answers from the Ancient Ones.
Just like any “performance”, there are steps and skills that are easily learned for this very important yet much overlooked Art; so any apprentice interested in this path will come away more confidant and powerful journeyman in the creation and adept use of Sacred Pantomime.
Foundations for Farming: Growing Food to Reach True Living Heathenry Stewardship and Understanding.
The heart of this class is to equip Heathens to be leaders in sustainable and personal agriculture by basing their gardens and farms in the foundation of the Vanir and direct connection to working with spirits of place and Landvaettir.
A Heathen tribal mindset of co-cocreation, industriousness, hospitality, awareness, attention to the task at hand, and hard work emulate the Old Norse way of Land/Tribe/Gods.
In this course, each apprentice will model the excellence that comes from respecting the design of a Living Creation, animated by the intelligent consciousness of Earth; along with the Vanir, the Alfs and the very spirits of plants, rocks and mud. In this course each seeker will share the heart of Jord that is behind it all and learn to tend to her needs and the seekers needs organically and esoterically.
Root work in seiðr and Living Heathenry.
This course is focused on making tools of seiðr, medicines, charms, tools, and mouth-watering foods through which the root work of HANDS ON earth magic is revealed.
You will receive an overview of foundational skills such as tool designs and usage.
A deep overview and examination of the nine scared Herbs as well as detailed curriculum on mind-altering use of plant allies on this path is also included within this course.
We will also go over in detail the making of medicines, salves, tinctures, elixirs, smudge, and hex powders as well as when to use them, how to use them, and by what amounts.
Magical cooking and food/drink Augury will be covered here, as well as the ever popular POISONOUS PLANTS module. *Every strange plant is edible…once!
Galdr, Galdrstav, and Runir Magics.
Ever tried creating magical sigils, spells, or incantations using runes? Ever wondered how they are connected to the cosmos of Living Heathenry and the quantifiable realm of reality?
Most people will come across the runes by picking up a book or reading a guide as to which rune means what, what effect each one is supposed to have and run off chanting, tracing, experimenting with them and trying desperately to make them ‘work’ with little if any success. More often than not, this is simply due to the lack of proper actual know how.
The runes were revealed to Odin, who then inscribed them upon all things in creation. They were subsequently taught to mankind by Heimdall, to the Vanir Gods and Goddesses by Odin himself and used on large as well as small scales of creation ranging from the gods cursing primordial giants, to winning the heart of one’s love by humans. One can think of runes as keys that unleash energies used to encode events, realities, perceptions … Uttering or chanting the runes in special alliterated incantations is traditionally called Galdr (which is an Old Norse word meaning incantation).
Odin reveals 18 such Galdr chants in the Hávamál giving him powers such as the ability to withstand fire, to raise the dead and so forth, whereas humans were able to use Galdr to force marriage (see Skírnismál), enable childbearing (see Oddrúnargrátr) and much more.
In order to use Galdr (the Galdr of the Gods such as Odin uses), one has to master the Self, awaken the spark within, gain understanding of the layers of reality and, more specifically, the effects of each rune upon every one of those realities. Unlike other ‘arts’ in similar fields, Galdr is very much akin to a science, providing one ability to unleash specific effects according to specific ‘rules’ or formulae. It is for all intents and purposes a process of learning the ‘Science of the Gods’.
Here at Forn Sed Hearthfire we also proudly teach hands on folk art skills, and blacksmithing is one of them!
through the wonders of technology our Master can teach you through video chats and demonstrations how to learn this useful art that connects anyone wielding a hammer to our Ancestor way of ingenuity, strength and creativity within self reliance.
We also offer other Folk Arts, like spinning, weaving and leather working.