Tag Archives: hospitality

TWIH Episode 76: Being Heathen with Cara Freyasdaughter


In this episode, we talk to Cara Freyasdaughter, where we discuss her journey to Heathenism, her introduction to Freya and Freyr, and some of the issues that are challenging modern Heathenism. What are  CUUPs and ADF? What does the lore say about racism and other issues that have been being dealt with within the Heathen community?

Cara Freyasdaughter is a devotional polytheist dedicated to Freya and Freyr who works within a “reconstructed-ish” Heathen tradition. A current member of The Troth and ADF, she writes a biweekly blog on Patheos’ Agora channel called “Happily Heathen”. Currently, Cara leads Heathen rituals and Runes ‘n Lore classes for the White Oak Grove CUUPs group and is a member of the Sinnissippi Tuath ADF Grove in northern Illinois.


Email:  cara@goldandredthread.com

The Troth (http://www.thetroth.org) The Troth is the largest International heathen organization. They are open and welcoming to people from all backgrounds.

Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship (https://www.adf.org)—While this is officially a “druid” fellowship, all Indo-European mythologies are honored. ADF has a large, active, and diverse Heathen contingent.

Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans: http://www.cuups.org/

“Happily Heathen” on the Patheos Agora Channel (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/author/cfreyasdaughter/)

“Huginn’s Heathen Hof” (http://www.heathenhof.com)

“A Community of Gods Surround Me” (communityofgods.wordpress.com)

“Freya: The Gold Thread” (thegoldthread.wordpress.com)



Modern Heathen Practice:

Original Sources:

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TWIH Episode 70: Hospitality and Sacrifice in Asatru with Alf Herigstad


Heathenry is going through a difficult stage in it’s evolution, especially lately. In this episode, we talk to Alf Herigstad founder of the Hawk’s Hearth Kindred, about his tradition of heathenry and the various issues that are important in heathenry today. What is heathenry? Why is there racism in heathenry? What are people doing about it? What does Heathen lore say about difference, and how does racism go against the edict of hospitality? Alf also talks about doing prison ministry, being on a Norwegian reality TV show, and his tradition’s use of animal sacrifice.


Note: This episode talks about animal sacrifice and farm life.



Alf Herigstad grew up in Washington State where he and his wife still reside on a small farm.  He is a veteran of the Army, a former owner of several construction businesses, as well as a former long haul trucker and real estate agent.  His employment list is long and varied because, as he says…he likes to learn new things.  


Raised as a Christian Alf at one time had an ambition to become an evangelical preacher and was very active in his local church.  After life took several turns he found himself disillusioned with that path.  Being descended from Norwegian immigrants he turned to one of his life-long interest; that of researching his heritage…that led to his discovery of Asatru


 Alf first became interested in Asatru around 2005, he began attending a Kindred local to him.  He took to it immediately and after intense study eventually attained a position in the kindred.  He was ordained / appointed as a Gothi in 2008.  Then, in 2011 founded a new Kindred; Hawk’s Hearth, which currently consists of about 30 members.


Alf is the host of a new podcast; Being A Better Man.  A secular program devoted specifically to the character of men.  The idea is to be a better man today then we were yesterday…then do that every day.  Although the program is secular in nature, his opinions are strongly influenced by his heathen philosophy and in that way he is infusing his listeners with a healthy dose of Heathen principles…which he says is basically just common sense. 




Hawk’s Hearth: www.hawkshearth.com  (website still being added to and updated)

Alf’s Podcast: www.beingabettermanpodcast.com

Alf’s email:  alf.thorvald@gmail.com

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TWIH Episode 66: Wholeness and Humanness with Laine DeLaney #pantheacon


Laine DeLaney joins us in this episode to talk about her journey from her childhood religion of Islam to her current Heathen and magickal traditions.  What does it mean to be a Heathen? Do you have to be of Northern European descent to be a “proper Heathen”? Is there really such a thing as an “unbroken” tradition? Why is hospitality important? We also talk about how accepting people as they identify themselves and accepting their humanness is important in accepting the “Other.”

This is part of a series of interviews with people who will be presenting at Pantheacon 2016.

Laine DeLaney was born in Western New York and has spent much of her life trying to escape its pull, but recently has made a new home in San Diego, California. She has been a member of several traditions and has acted as a clergyperson, spiritual guide, and seeress for various groups and communities. Laine writes for pleasure (science fiction on her Empyrean Dreams blog and other random fiction), for profit (as a custom content creator), for activism (in her columns in various LGBT publications), to discuss Pagan issues (on The Lady’s Quill on Patheos Pagan and Pagan Church Lady on WordPress), and because she has difficulty stopping.


Email: lainedelaney919@gmail.com

Website: Pagan Church Lady

Pagan Church Lady on Facebook

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TWIH Episode 39: Hospitality, Gender, and Inclusion with Dee Shull (#pantheacon)


In this episode we’re joined by Dee Shull to talk about the concept of hospitality and the inclusion of gender variant people in rituals. How do we show hospitality to those who are different? What is a responsible way to be inclusive, even if your group doesn’t represent as a diverse group as the members would like? How do we create as safe a space as possible? 

 N.B.: This episode was recorded shortly after Pantheacon 2015. There were also technical problems with the sound (my own fault, really) that have since been fixed. My wife, who is my sound engineer, worked a miracle on this episode, however, there will be some lingering weirdness with the audio. And finally, when we discuss “Dianics” in this episode, we are referring to Z. Budapestian Dianics, who are generally trans-exclusionary.

Dee Shull is a decidedly eclectic pagan whose praxis includes some generic Wiccan-flavored elements, heathen practice, animism, and ecstatic work (they prefers the term over “shamanic”). They works most closely with Brighid and the Vanir. They is also genderfluid and queer, and advocates for not just inclusion of gender diverse pagans, but the practice of hospitality by and within groups.


Email (please be mindful that Dee is in the middle of their last terms of their masters): seabhacmhor@gmail.com

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The Heretic Writes: You know what they say about opinions….


Yeshe Rabbit asked the following on Facebook the other day, and rather than clog up her wall with a long post, I figured I’d write about it here.

How many people who write about doing spiritual work do you think are actually DOING that work on a regular basis? Like, how many ppl who write about reading tarot are actually doing readings for people every day, or even weekly?

How many people do you think write about their spiritual lives & their relationships with animal spirits, nature, & the gods (I might say, “pontificate”), but in reality they just wake up, go to work at office jobs, daydream & write about their spirituality as an escape valve, then go home and watch TV all night? Or some variation thereof?

How important is it, to you, that a person actually practice what they preach?

What percentage of time and attention to actual spiritual activities do you think separates a mere daydreamer from an authentic practitioner?

I think these are all good questions to ask, but how people answer them are important, more so than the actual answers they give. What follows are my own thoughts about these questions:

First, the typical way folks answer these types of questions, particularly the last question, is: “I think an authentic practitioner is [insert here some opinion of a standard that the person thinks is proper for a practicing pagan].” I think of this as “the easy answer”: it is easy for someone to give their opinion, based on their tradition and practice, on who or what a “real” or “proper” practitioner is. I mean, heck, I have my own opinions on it and have pontificated on this myself. For example, I’m not so fond of Silver Ravenwolf’s books. I think they’re kind of fluffy and light, but I do give her credit for making books that are accessible to folks just starting out. I personally wouldn’t recommend them for my students, but here’s the kicker: if a student came to me saying that they got a lot out of her books and that it led them to where they are in their current practice, then who am I to argue with how they got here?

My first point is: A student’s or practitioner’s claim to being a witch/pagan/etc is not invalidated because I happen to dislike the path or reading material that they used to get there. Nor does it mean that a pagan author isn’t writing something that is authentic to their own practice.

Second, not everyone has, or benefits from, a regular or daily practice. People also grow out of practices that they no longer need. I used to go to my altar every morning and night to put my pagan jewelry on before I went to my day job and take it off before bed. It was necessary for me to do this in the beginning of my journey because it helped me to connect to deity. I don’t find it as necessary now since I don’t have jewelry that I take on and off regularly and my connection to deity is pretty well established. I also don’t do tarot on a regular basis, but when I do, people compliment me on my readings. I don’t do as much out in nature anymore, even though I love it, because I am not able to walk long distances anymore or stand for long periods of time. I do have a practice, it’s just different.

My second point is, then, that a person’s spiritual practices are their own and will shift and change as needed over time.

Third, and I think most important, is: Who are we to judge what is and is not “proper” practice? Like I said, we all have our opinions on it. There are many pagans and Christians who really like to tell me that I’m not a good practitioner of either tradition because I practice both. My former, and emotionally abusive, coven leader liked to tell us that a person could only become a proper witch by another witch (pretty old school BritTrad, actually) and was dismissive of self-initiates and other traditions.

There are also authors who have written about who and who is not a “proper pagan.” I stopped reading a particular well known author because one of their books implied that a person cannot be a proper pagan environmentalist and live in the city. I was really disappointed because I live in the city and try to do the best I can in regards to the environment. If I had the privilege of money and time, then I would love to have a homestead with a garden and the ability to put in a grey water system. But my wife and I can’t do that. We have to live in the city for the time being. We don’t really have the money or the choice. But this fact doesn’t mean we aren’t witches who care about the environment. (There’s also issues with class and race in regards to this author, but that’s a post for another time.)

Who made these people the gatekeepers of all knowledge? Just because you are an Elder, 3rd Degree, priest, minister, or Initiate in a particular religious tradition does not mean you know everything. Nor does it automatically make you worthy of respect, or that you become the Fount of All Knowledge. The same is true of authors and us as consumers of their knowledge. It’s ok to think an author is full of crap, but it doesn’t mean that what they impart won’t be helpful to someone somewhere on their spiritual journey.

This is my third, and I think probably the most important, point: We have the privilege of looking at other’s spiritual paths and practices through the lens of our own traditions and practices. While we may not agree with how someone is practicing or the way they got to, or write about, their current practice, it does not mean that our tradition or practice is in any way superior to theirs.

Or to put it another way: A daydreamer IS a practitioner. They are just different from me, or you, or anyone else. I, for one, will wish them well on the journey!

TWIH Episode 37: Hope and the Old Catholic Church with Diane Miles


This week we’re joined by Diane Miles, who is a Bishop in the Old (Independent) Catholic Church. Diane describes what the Old Catholic church is and how it compares to the Roman Catholic Church and Gnosticism. We also talk about power, change, hope, and how religions need to evolve in order to make it into the future.

Diane Miles is a Bishop of the Old Catholic Church, a Reiki Master, a registered nurse, and interfaith chaplain, and a medium. Diane works out of Berkeley with a partner through the Church of Holy Sophia in Practice. She is available for Celtic Catholic services and Sufi practice. 



Email: drmiles@sbcglobal.net or sophiainpractice@yahoo.com (preferred)

Website: http://sophiainpractice.com


On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and Their Own Families by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting by Dr. Wayne Dyer

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TWIH Episode 21: Invisible Disabilities with Dany Atkins


In this week’s episode we talk with Dany Atkins about invisible disabilities and how they can be dismissed, not only in society in general, but in the Pagan community in general. People can get annoyed when confronted with their lack of thought about how to accommodate people who have disabilities. How can clergy be more responsible about accommodating for the disabilities we can’t see?

Dany Atkins is a nationally known writer, educator, and activist on a variety of issues including body image, sexuality and diversity issues. She has given workshops and lectures around the country and abroad on a variety of topics.

She has also been guest editor of issues of the Journal of Lesbian Studies, Journal of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Identity and Journal of Bisexuality. She also served on the editorial board of the Journal of Lesbian Studies and the Journal of Bisexuality.

She was the founder and Chair of the Body Image Task Force and is the former Research Chair for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. She is featured in the educational video “Killing Us for Our Own Good: Dieting and Medical Misinformation” (produced by the BITF). She currently runs a small press for erotic fiction called Forbidden Fiction


Dany’s Email: purplerabbit13@gmail.com

Books (as Dawn Atkins):

Looking Queer: Body Image and Identity in Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender Communities

Lesbian Sex Scandals: Sexual Practices, Identities, and Politics

Bisexual Women in the Twenty-First Century

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TWIH Episode 3: Inclusion and the Emerging Church with Rev. Lee Whittaker


This week’s co-host is Rev. Lee Whittaker, one of my very good friends from seminary, and a recent graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry. On this week’s show we talk about the “emerging church” and how the welcome that a church gives to those coming in makes a difference between who stays and who runs away.

Rev. Lee Whittaker holds a Masters of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry and a Certificate in Sexuality and Religion from the Pacific School of Religion. He is originally from the east coast until he came out to Berkeley, CA to go to seminary in 2010. He is an ordained minister with the Progressive Christian Alliance as well as a 1st degree priest in the Circle of Cerridwen coven. Lee believes firmly in the emergent church movement and its capacity to heal the many in the margins.


Pacific School of Religion: http://www.psr.edu

Coffee With God (Lee’s blog): http://coffee-with-god.com/

Lee’s Twitter: @coffee_wth_god

We are now on Stitcher! Click the box in the sidebar to the right, or search for “This Week In Heresy” in the Stitcher app (both iOS and Android).

Errata: I didn’t realize I’d said “Episode 4” instead of “Episode 3” until after it finished uploading. Bleh. Well, there’s bound to be mistakes every now and again, right?

Running Time: 40 minutes