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Author Topic: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism  (Read 1816 times)

chris_pagan

Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« on: June 22, 2014, 02:46:25 pm »
((I was suggested to re-post my introduction from the intro board here in order to get the questions I had in it better seen and answered. Sorry if it seems like I'm spamming or being redundant! I'm still getting used to using forums so I've got some kinks to work out.))

I'm Chris, and I'm really new to Paganism. I'm trying my best with what I have and I'm currently practicing in secrecy, but I'm making progress. I've worked the most with Cernunnos and have been working to get to know him and establish a relationship with him, but as for a specific path, I'm not sure of. I'm having a bit of a problem there, actually.

You see, I'm more drawn to reconstructionism than Neo-Pagan religions due to my interest in culture and history. I've got a particular interest in two cultures actually- Gaelic and Norse. I feel a very strong connection with both cultures and feel drawn to their Gods and ideas. Unfortunately, I'm unsure about practicing a syncretic path. There certainly is a historical basis for practicing a Gaelic and Norse syncretic path- just look at the Norse-Gaels, they rules parts of Ireland, dominated the Irish sea, and ruled the Isle of Mann for many years, and millions of Celtic people today are descendants of them. And all the evidence 110% points to them having a culturally syncretic way of life between the two cultures.

Despite this, many still have issues with blending Gaelic and Norse practices in a historical context. Not only that, but we don't really have anything that tells us what exactly these practices were. We know the cultures and beliefs blended, but how they did remains a mystery.

If I were to go on and mix these two systems, which would take years of learning to do properly and in a culturally respectful manner, there's no doubt that I'd be ostracized in the Celtic or Heathen Recon community. I'd never be able to have a group to practice with, which is something I really would love to have at some point. I'd kinda be out on my own, which would really suck. I'm also having trouble finding sources from those who have blended the two paths, and what I do find is spotty with little useful information.

So I suppose my questions here would be-
1) Does anyone have experience with Norse-Gael syncretism?
2) Does anyone know any sources concerning Norse-Gael culture or beliefs?
3) Do you think that someone who practiced a Norse-Gael syncretic path would be accepted as a member of the Norse or Celtic Recon community, or even the wider Heathen community?

And finally as an opinion question-
4) What do YOU think of Norse-Gael syncretism? Is it legitimate in a recon setting, or should cultures always be separate from one another? If you're a Norse or Celtic Recon, would you or a group you practice with accept someone of that type of faith?

Thanks guys, I'm looking forward to reading your replies and getting to know everyone here!

Juniperberry

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Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2014, 10:54:30 pm »
Quote from: chris_pagan;150749

I'm Chris, and I'm really new to Paganism.

I forgot to greet you in your original intro so, Welcome!

 

Quote
Unfortunately, I'm unsure about practicing a syncretic path. There certainly is a historical basis for practicing a Gaelic and Norse syncretic path- just look at the Norse-Gaels, they rules parts of Ireland, dominated the Irish sea, and ruled the Isle of Mann for many years, and millions of Celtic people today are descendants of them. And all the evidence 110% points to them having a culturally syncretic way of life between the two cultures.

Since there's such a long and varied history of pre-christian religions in NE, most recons chose a certain time frame and location to reconstruct. It sounds like yours would be that particular time and place that you described above. :)

Quote
Despite this, many still have issues with blending Gaelic and Norse practices in a historical context. Not only that, but we don't really have anything that tells us what exactly these practices were. We know the cultures and beliefs blended, but how they did remains a mystery.

IMO, the "what's and why's" of practice are more important than the "how's". Once you know *why* they felt their lost practices were important to their belief system, and *what* they were trying to accomplish, you can then figure out *how* you can revive that same intent. Is that type of information available?  

Quote
If I were to go on and mix these two systems, which would take years of learning to do properly and in a culturally respectful manner, there's no doubt that I'd be ostracized in the Celtic or Heathen Recon community.

I'm recon and I have absolutely no issue with your interests. :)

 

Quote
1) Does anyone have experience with Norse-Gael syncretism?

Sorry, no. But read up on the matronae votive stones, H.R.E.Davidson's books, and use Google Scholar.


Quote
3) Do you think that someone who practiced a Norse-Gael syncretic path would be accepted as a member of the Norse or Celtic Recon community, or even the wider Heathen community?

Yep. :)
« Last Edit: June 22, 2014, 10:57:26 pm by Juniperberry »
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

peorth

Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2014, 01:08:33 am »
Quote from: chris_pagan;150749
So I suppose my questions here would be-
1) Does anyone have experience with Norse-Gael syncretism?
2) Does anyone know any sources concerning Norse-Gael culture or beliefs?
3) Do you think that someone who practiced a Norse-Gael syncretic path would be accepted as a member of the Norse or Celtic Recon community, or even the wider Heathen community?

And finally as an opinion question-
4) What do YOU think of Norse-Gael syncretism? Is it legitimate in a recon setting, or should cultures always be separate from one another? If you're a Norse or Celtic Recon, would you or a group you practice with accept someone of that type of faith?

Thanks guys, I'm looking forward to reading your replies and getting to know everyone here!

A syncretic Norse-Gael practice is something that has crossed my mind, as many of my ancestors trace back to Scotland (Isle of Lewis) and from there to Norway. I know you specifically mentioned Ireland in your post, but perhaps this website could be of interest to you- Orkneyjar: The Heritage of the Orkney Islands.

At the moment, I'm content with worshipping the Norse gods while honoring all of my ancestors. There are not many Celtic deities that have "stayed with me" or really clicked for me the way the Norse deities have- except for Bride/Brighid. So maybe one day I will have a small altar devoted to her. :)

While the wider Heathen community is very Norse and Anglo-Saxon specific, I wouldn't see a problem with being accepted simply because you follow a syncretic path. I would, however, follow host rules when it comes to hailing the gods and goddesses during blot or sumbel.

I would love to hear of any information that you find that helps you construct your practice.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2014, 01:14:46 am by peorth »

Gilbride

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Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2014, 06:45:38 am »
Quote from: chris_pagan;150749
2) Does anyone know any sources concerning Norse-Gael culture or beliefs?


Gaelic culture was just becoming thoroughly Christian when the Norse showed up, but some level of syncretism did occur in the folklore. The Highland Cailleach lore mixed with Norse legends of malevolent giantesses- in the Scottish Lowlands, the Cailleach was called the Gyre Carling, a name of Norse origins. A lot of the Fianna lore mentions Lochlann (their word for Scandinavia). Also, check out whatever you can find on the Galloglass warriors.

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Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2014, 01:39:41 pm »
Quote from: Gilbride;150789
A lot of the Fianna lore mentions Lochlann (their word for Scandinavia).

Interesting. So... Stupid question: How would you recommend researching this?  Any particular books come to mind?
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Gilbride

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Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2014, 02:37:31 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;150810
Interesting. So... Stupid question: How would you recommend researching this?  Any particular books come to mind?


For Highland Fianna lore in English translation (but also including the original Gaelic), see "Popular Tales of the West Highlands" vol 1 and 2, and "More West Highland Tales" vol 1 and 2, both collected by JF Campbell.

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Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2014, 07:55:02 pm »
Quote from: Gilbride;150814
For Highland Fianna lore in English translation (but also including the original Gaelic), see "Popular Tales of the West Highlands" vol 1 and 2, and "More West Highland Tales" vol 1 and 2, both collected by JF Campbell.

Thanks!
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Hyacinth Belle

Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2014, 10:26:11 pm »
Quote from: chris_pagan;150749

So I suppose my questions here would be-
1) Does anyone have experience with Norse-Gael syncretism?
2) Does anyone know any sources concerning Norse-Gael culture or beliefs?
3) Do you think that someone who practiced a Norse-Gael syncretic path would be accepted as a member of the Norse or Celtic Recon community, or even the wider Heathen community?

Welcome to TC! 😃 You might find this thread of interest!
"Silent and thoughtful a prince\'s son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15

Materialist

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Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2014, 10:21:01 am »
Quote from: Gilbride;150789
Gaelic culture was just becoming thoroughly Christian when the Norse showed up, but some level of syncretism did occur in the folklore.


(for chris_pagan) And this is the hitch I see with a Norse-Gaelic historical syncretic path. I'm reading Viking Scotland by Anna Ritchie, and there is some evidence for Norse pagan and Scottish Christian fusion, but the immigrants quickly assimilated with the natives and in less than 200 years pagan artefacts and burials ceased being made.

So it sounds unlikely, if there were still Scottish pagans remaining during the Viking Age, that they would have had enough time to combine the pagan paths before they became Christian. I'm guessing this is more so in Ireland, who were the ones that converted Scotland.

Not that this automatically illegitimizes your quest-it's your religion, do what you want with it-it just means you might have to figure out how to combine the two.

Gilbride

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Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2014, 07:14:52 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;151374
So it sounds unlikely, if there were still Scottish pagans remaining during the Viking Age, that they would have had enough time to combine the pagan paths before they became Christian. I'm guessing this is more so in Ireland, who were the ones that converted Scotland

 
Folklore of likely pre-Christian and Gaelic origins ("those mountains were made by big giant goddesses carrying rocks") was combined with concepts of Christian origin ("the old woman who made that mountain is like an old lonely nun or cailleach) and then with folklore of Norse pagan origins ("giant women who make mountains are scary monsters") to produce the concept of "The Cailleach." Or at least that's one theory. Anyway, my point is that the ideas mixed naturally in the oral tradition.

hraefngar

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Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2014, 04:36:33 pm »
Quote from: chris_pagan;150749

What do YOU think of Norse-Gael syncretism? Is it legitimate in a recon setting, or should cultures always be separate from one another? If you're a Norse or Celtic Recon, would you or a group you practice with accept someone of that type of faith?

 

I have no problem with this, but I know little about it and it is certainly not my own cup of tea.  

I wouldn't mind hanging out with a Norse-Gael syncretist and talking religion over a beer.   But I am not sure how welcome they would be in my kindred, from a ritual standpoint, where we honor solely Germanic deities.

BlindBardRLB

Re: Norse/heathen folk: questions on Norse-Gaul syncretism
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2014, 07:40:04 pm »
Quote from: chris_pagan;150749
((I was suggested to re-post my introduction from the intro board here in order to get the questions I had in it better seen and answered. Sorry if it seems like I'm spamming or being redundant! I'm still getting used to using forums so I've got some kinks to work out.))

I'm Chris, and I'm really new to Paganism. I'm trying my best with what I have and I'm currently practicing in secrecy, but I'm making progress. I've worked the most with Cernunnos and have been working to get to know him and establish a relationship with him, but as for a specific path, I'm not sure of. I'm having a bit of a problem there, actually.

You see, I'm more drawn to reconstructionism than Neo-Pagan religions due to my interest in culture and history. I've got a particular interest in two cultures actually- Gaelic and Norse. I feel a very strong connection with both cultures and feel drawn to their Gods and ideas. Unfortunately, I'm unsure about practicing a syncretic path. There certainly is a historical basis for practicing a Gaelic and Norse syncretic path- just look at the Norse-Gaels, they rules parts of Ireland, dominated the Irish sea, and ruled the Isle of Mann for many years, and millions of Celtic people today are descendants of them. And all the evidence 110% points to them having a culturally syncretic way of life between the two cultures.

Despite this, many still have issues with blending Gaelic and Norse practices in a historical context. Not only that, but we don't really have anything that tells us what exactly these practices were. We know the cultures and beliefs blended, but how they did remains a mystery.

If I were to go on and mix these two systems, which would take years of learning to do properly and in a culturally respectful manner, there's no doubt that I'd be ostracized in the Celtic or Heathen Recon community. I'd never be able to have a group to practice with, which is something I really would love to have at some point. I'd kinda be out on my own, which would really suck. I'm also having trouble finding sources from those who have blended the two paths, and what I do find is spotty with little useful information.

So I suppose my questions here would be-
1) Does anyone have experience with Norse-Gael syncretism?
2) Does anyone know any sources concerning Norse-Gael culture or beliefs?
3) Do you think that someone who practiced a Norse-Gael syncretic path would be accepted as a member of the Norse or Celtic Recon community, or even the wider Heathen community?

And finally as an opinion question-
4) What do YOU think of Norse-Gael syncretism? Is it legitimate in a recon setting, or should cultures always be separate from one another? If you're a Norse or Celtic Recon, would you or a group you practice with accept someone of that type of faith?

Thanks guys, I'm looking forward to reading your replies and getting to know everyone here!

 
Howdy there Chris

I actually have a decent amount of experience with a Gaelig Heathen practice. Been practicing Gaelic Polytheism for about eight to ten years and Heathenry for about two and a half.

While Gaelic Heathenry isn’t for everyone, there are a few people around on the web that are great examples of Gaelic Heathens and a Gaelic Heathen path. Morgan fromLiving Liminally and Kym from Shadow of the Hooded Crow comes to mind.

As for me, well I’m very interested in the very strong blend of Gaelic and Norse culture in Scotland….Most of my ancestors come from Scotland, with a couple of families of my ancestors, like the Traill, came from Orkney and I consider Orkneyjar very valuable as far as some examples of cultural practices goes from that area.

So in the end there are a couple of things you need to ask yourself. Is this something that is in your heart and part of your blood? Do you feel such a strong calling from deities from both groups?

My personal experience as a Gaelic Heathen has gone pretty well in both camps. I’m part of both a Grove as well as a Kindred and I get grief from neither group….But I have come across folks from either faith that are dead set against the mixing and blending of both…You’ll find that just about ever faith though.

My main Gods from the Gaels are Brigid, Angus Mac Og, An Dagda, and Oghma, while from the Norse I’m very fond of Thor, Tyr, and Ullr.

At the moment I’m taking a hiatus from the syncretic path in order to sort out my stuff. Some things I have received from the two groups of Gods have been…..Conflicting to say the least and until I get a clear answer one way or another I can’t really move forward all that much.

If you have any questions or want to chat about it, feel free to hit me up anytime.

Rob

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