Not Relevant, But Maybe You Can Help…

Hi everyone, 

My name is Karen Simons, and my father Robert Simons is currently suffering from advanced prostate cancer. This devastating disease is often difficult to spot until its too late, either because symptoms aren’t as severe or because many men simply refuse to go to the doctor. 

Prostate cancer affects 1 in 8 men in the UK, which is a massive statistic. 

Sadly, in my dad’s case, the cancer has spread to his bones and is slowly making its way to other parts of his body. For him, this illness is incurable. All we can do now is try to make him as comfortable as possible, and enjoy whatever time we have left with him. 

But in many cases, prostate cancer is treatable. I am hoping to raise money to allow Prostate Cancer UK to help other men who are facing this horrible disease, and hopefully fund further research which could help future patients. 

I aim to walk 100 miles in 2 months with my ponies, Ruby and Freya. We may also incorporate carriage driving into our mission. 100 miles may not seem like much, but for little ponies its quite a distance! 

Please donate using the link below to help me reach my target, and hopefully exceed it – even just £1 can make a difference!

I will post regular updates on this page, as well as my main page (Charity Pony Walks). 

Feel free to share this post to help spread the word. Its time to kick cancer’s ass! 

http://www.justgiving.com/ponywalkforprostatecanceruk 

#ProstateCancerUK #prostatecancer #cancer #charity #challenge #fundraising #equestrian #horses #ponies #walk #trek #kickcancersass

Why We Shouldn’t Rely on Material Possessions 

Our species has always been materialistic to an extent, wanting fine clothing and jewellery to show off status etc. But in 2017, materialism has reached a level which I find extremely unhealthy.

Now, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon up my arse. I wasn’t raised in a piss-poor household, but we certainly weren’t rich by any means. I was lucky enough to grow up with horses, but only because my parents worked very hard doing physical jobs to be able to afford them. They taught me the value of money, and the importance of a good work ethic. If I wanted something, I had to earn it. Some of my fondest memories are of being taken to charity shops to see what secondhand stuff I could buy for £3 or less. I was also a regular at car boot sales, and even now have hand-me-down clothes and equestrian equipment. 

Even if I am lucky enough to have a decent amount of money in my pocket, I still can’t kick the habit of going to secondhand or discount stores. 

I’m not interested in keeping up with fashion, or following trends. I’ve got my own style, and I only buy something if I need/want it, not just because some rich celebrity in a magazine tells me I should buy it. 

If us here in the western world experienced a cataclysm, which is quite possible in the near future, people would be too busy crying over their shattered iPhones and ruined designer clothes to care about food or water. On one hand, this is a good thing – natural selection, survival of the fittest and all that jazz. But on the other hand, its a sad testament to how truly egotistical and materialistic we have become.

When Ragnarök comes, our fancy clothes, jewellery and gadgets aren’t going to save us. And even if that doesn’t happen in our lifetime, when our time on Midgard comes to an end, all these things will be meaningless. In the end, the only things we will care about are the memories and the things we regret. 

Let materialism NOT be on that regret list. Live your life, learn how to survive without the need for new technology or extortionately priced fabrics. Don’t be a slave to your ego. 

Follow your own path, not a celebrity’s. 

4 Things You Can Do to Aid Your Journey into Heathenry 

Many people from all over the world, especially Europeans (for whom heathenry is an ancestral pull), decide that they wish to be heathen. Although this is half the battle won, particularly if you have had to extricate yourself from a web of lies and brainwashing, it can be very daunting for new heathens who are entering into a belief system which they may know hardly anything about.

So, I have compiled a list of things you can do which will ultimately help you on your journey. Enjoy!

1. Read. I cannot stress this enough! Reading, both physical books and the material that one can easily find online through a simple Google search, is the easiest and best way to learn about heathenry. From the sagas and eddas, to the Havamál, and right the way up to blogs like this one, there’s a huge wealth of information right at your fingertips!

2. Immerse yourself in nature. Our gods are most easily found in the wilderness or forests. Being outside in nature is also a great way to combat depression and help to keep us both mentally and physically healthy.

3. Think long and hard. Is heathenry the right path for you? Some people change their minds when they do more research on the subjects, so before you commit to our gods and our ways, its worth being certain (especially if it will cause family problems because of it!).

4. Join Facebook groups/online forums. Meeting other like minded people is a great way to make new friends and learn more about your new path! But its also worth mentioning that you should be extremely careful when doing this – some groups are not as innocent as they seem!

I hope this helps! 

What Makes a ‘True’ Heathen?

Recently, all I seem to read are posts regarding ‘true heathens’. But what exactly would one define as the traits of a ‘true heathen’?

This phrase provokes two very different definitions in my mind:

1. The person could be implying that only certain types of people can call themselves heathen, and that others are not ‘true’.

2. The person could be making a reference to the fact that many people, sadly, fake being heathen because they think its ‘cool’.

To be honest, I think this phrase needs a bit of careful thought. Rather than making people feel excluded, maybe we could start using a catch-all alternative?

We are all invididuals, and that’s great, because that’s how the gods designed us to be. Some people are born into heathenry; others choose to follow that path.

Different people have different interpretations of what it means to be truly heathen, myself included. I’ve had many arguments with self professed ‘true’ heathens who refused to accept my own personal interpretation, nor the ways in which I choose to honour the gods. But is this really such a crime? 

My faith is personal, and I alone decide what I do and how I do it. Some people build shrines to the gods – I prefer to feel their presence when immersed in nature. Some people choose to follow a set path that people on the internet or in books recommend – I choose to forge my own path. Just because someone doesn’t agree with the way you do things, doesn’t mean that you – or they – are doing it wrong.

Sadly, many people seem to think that wearing a Mjölnir pendant and growing a beard makes you a ‘true’ heathen automatically. I’m not trying to judge these guys, they are free to do as they wish, but this can be very misleading to others who instead prefer to practise their faith quietly and more subtly.

Perhaps I’m just thinking too much into this, but I’ve seen far too many new heathens being put off by that phrase. Think before you speak/write is all I’m saying! 

15 Things We Can Learn From Our Heathen Ancestors

I could probably write tons more, but here’s a list of the main things we can learn from our heathen ancestors:

1. Always fight for justice, no matter the cost.

2. Always seek, and tell, the truth.

3. Never back down – stay true to yourself and your beliefs.

4. Honour your ancestors and gods.

5. Learn from your mistakes.

6. Study your enemy – know their weaknesses, and use them to your advantage.

7. Never fight unless you stand a good chance of winning – its always better to retreat, and live to fight another day.

8. Stay loyal to your spouse, family and friends.

9. Love with a passion.

10. Protect those you love.

11. Work hard.

12. Take care of nature.

13. Never show your weaknesses – you never know who’s watching.

14. Take pride in everything you do.

15. Don’t fear death – when your time comes, embrace it!  

The Defining Moment 

As with anyone who experiences a sudden burst of enlightenment, these things can often occur in the strangest of places and circumstances. I have decided to tell you all about a very personal moment, which ultimately cemented my belief in the Norse gods.

On the morning of 17th June 2013, I awoke bright and early, fully believing that that day was to be one of the best of my life. By that afternoon, it had become the worst.

You see, that day was supposed to be my first ultrasound scan. I was pregnant, and very much looking forward to seeing my first child and hearing their heartbeat.

At 1.45pm, myself and my now ex partner were called into the ultrasound room. We were basking in the glow of euphoria, blissfully unaware that our world was about to come crashing down in a horrendous, heart wrenching fashion. 

As the doctor moved the machine over my stomach, I had a sudden feeling that something was amiss. They were far too quiet, and they were taking way too long. I asked what the problem was, and that’s when they said the words that no expectant mother should ever have to hear: “I’m sorry, but there’s no heartbeat”. In that moment, a trapdoor opened beneath me. I felt as if I was free falling at lightning speed, helpless and absolutely terrified. 

We were told that our beautiful baby’s heart had simply stopped beating. The doctor then explained that I’d have to come back in two days to be induced. 

Distraught, shocked and grief stricken, I went for a long walk. To this day I don’t know why, but I somehow ended up at the doors of Peterborough Cathedral – one of the biggest religious buildings in England. Perhaps it is human nature to seek comfort in a higher power, I don’t know, but nonetheless I found myself walking through the ancient wooden doors and sitting down in an empty pew. For the first time in my entire life, I prayed to the Christian god – who I’d never really believed in. I prayed to him to make this situation go away. I prayed to him to make my little one’s heart start beating again, to make this nightmare end. I’m not sure how long I sat there and prayed, but it felt like an enternity. I was a broken shell of a woman, and god suddenly seemed like my only hope. 

Two days later, I went back to the hospital, and discovered that my child was definitely dead. I was then induced, and at 3.15pm on 19th June 2013, I gave birth to a perfectly formed, yet tiny, little boy. I named my son Riley, to honour my rich Irish ancestry. Riley also means ‘courageous soldier’. My boy was a fighter, he may not have lived but he made it further than the doctors thought possible after the autopsy confirmed that he’d suffered from an incurable heart condition.

In the following months, I was utterly grief stricken. I have no idea how I kept myself going, but somehow I managed to function outwardly, despite my inner turmoil. During those dark times, I felt a huge amount of anger towards god. He had abandoned me, and allowed my son to die. What sort of loving, caring creator would sit back and let that happen? 

To make it worse, my religious relatives would often say that “it was god’s will”. This only made my hatred for the Christian deity grow. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure now that I was surviving on pure rage and hate back then.

I have since lost three more children – an ectopic pregnancy in March 2014 which cost me my left fallopian tube, and two miscarriages in May and July this year. No amount of loss dulls your heart to the immense pain and grief that you feel; a child dying before its parents is unnatural, and something that I wouldn’t wish even on my very worst enemy. 

Following each loss, all I seemed to get from people was that blasted phrase – “its god’s will”. This has only served to solidify my heathen beliefs, and my unadulterated rage towards the Christ god. The Christians amongst you may point out, and fairly so, that Odin did not stop my children dying either. But if you study the heathen ways, you will come to realise that our gods aren’t there to beg for help. You may ask them for guidance, but they will not solve your problems for you; it is up to you to deal with them. Embracing my true path – heathenry – has really helped me to make sense of the traumatic things I’ve experienced. It has comforted me throughout my grief, because I know that I will eventually meet my children again in the next life. It has helped me to realise that bad things happen to good people, but that this is neither due to them being sinful, nor necessarily the will of the gods. It has also made me understand that a good fate may well be in store for me, hopefully one devoid of infertility and loss, woven by the Norns. Everything happens for a reason, and I truly believe that my reason is still yet to be revealed.

When I prayed to the Christ god in that cathedral, I felt more lost and alone than I’d ever felt in my entire life, before or since. When I am immersed in nature, surrounded by the presence of my gods, I never feel alone. 


 

The Lost Saga of Gaukar Trandilsson

As I mentioned in a previous post, there are about 40 Icelandic sagas. But curiously, there seems to be one that will forever remain lost.

Icelandic professor Jón Helgason, during his research of the original saga documents, managed to decipher an intriguing sentence, which read: “let Trandilsson’s story be written here, I am told that Mr Grim knows it.”

Sadly, this saga was never put to paper, but ‘Mr Grim’ is believed to have been Grimur Porsteinsson who was a knight and governor in the year 1350.

Despite this story not being recorded, experts are fairly certain as to whom it refers, thanks to the amazing oral storytelling traditions of the Icelandic people who have passed these wonderful tales down through the generations.

Gaukar is reported to have been a very brave and gentle man. He was also the foster brother of Ásgrimir, whom it is said murdered Gaukar after they had a falling out of some sort.

Although Gaukar’s individual saga was never recorded, he is mentioned in two existing sagas – Njáls Saga, and the Íslendigadrápa (a poem about the heroes of Iceland). Therefore, Gaukar must have been a fairly well known figure in Icelandic folklore.

As well as these two literary examples, Gaukar is mentioned in a runic inscription on a tomb found in Orkney. The inscription translates to: “these runes were carved by the man who was the most knowledgeable of runes in the west of the sea, using the axe that belonged to Gaukar Trandilsson in the south of the land.” (The south of the land is a term which refers to Iceland).

During the course of my own research, I have discovered that Gaukar Trandilsson was also known as ‘Gaukar á Stöng’ (Gaukar of Stöng). Stöng was a farm situated in the Pjórsárdalur valley, Iceland. The original viking age farm was destroyed after a volcanic eruption nearby. The volcano in question, Mount Heckla, was very close to the site of the farm; perhaps Gaukar did not know that the snow capped mountain was actually volcanic! The site was excavated in recent decades, and the remaining foundations of Stöng were preserved beneath a shelter. I have included photos of the shelter, the ruins that lay beneath, and the replica of the original farm which was built nearby. You can actually still visit them today, for the cost of a few coins. 

10 Facts About the Sagas 

1. The sagas are stories written about families who lived in Iceland.

2. Most of the historical events mentioned in the sagas point towards them being set in the 9th – 11th centuries. This time period is often known as ‘the saga age’.

3. They are the best known specimens of Icelandic literature.

4. The sagas tell the tales of the struggles and conflicts that arose within the societies of early Icelandic settlers.

5. For a long time they were passed down through the generations orally, until they were eventually written in the 13th and 14th centuries.

6. The authors of the written sagas are unknown, although it is widely believed that Egils Saga was written by his descendant – Snorri Sturluson.

7. The modernized edition is known as Íslenzk Fornrit.

8. There are around 40 sagas in total, although the saga of Gaukar á Stöng is believed to have existed (but is now considered lost).

9. It is believed that they were written in order to maintain/reconnect links with the Nordic countries, from whence the majority of Icelanders are descended, even today.

10. Another reason could have been that a combination of long winters and readily available parchment (due to cattle farming) could have encouraged Icelanders to take up writing.

Reasons to Love Europe 

Ever since Brexit first began, I’ve been seeing a lot of negative posts (and even some insults) directed towards European people. In light of this, I’m here to tell you why I LOVE Europe!

1. This probably makes me sound biased, and maybe I am, but my ancestry is predominantly continental European. I’ve never felt truly at home living in Britain, yet I have done whenever I’ve visited European countries. Plus, I’m fairly certain that 100% British people are a rarity – almost of all of us are descended from Europeans!

2. European hospitality is second to none. Whenever I’ve visited a European country, I’ve always received a warm welcome! 

3. Europe is a cultural melting pot. Where else on earth could you find such diversity, and all within driving distance?

4. European people who move to the UK contribute towards a huge chunk of our economy. Without them, we’d be in far worse financial dire straits!

5. The history, mythology and traditions of ancient Europe have never really died, and are still very much prevalent today – something which we in Britain seem to have lost over the years!

6. Europe is like one massive community. They may disagree from time to time, but in times of crisis, all the individual nations tend to pull together!

I’m sure I could write many more, but I hope that I’ve proven that our relationship with our neighbours should be cultivated, and not allowed to wither and die!

I for one am PROUD of my European roots!