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PAGAN WHIPPING RITUAL
by Friso Spoelstra
Condensed from The Guardian

Every spring in Barbagia, a remote mountainous part of Italy, they hold the Feste Pagane. It symbolises fertility, mysterious brotherhoods, and the struggle between the people and the spirits who freeze the land in the winter.

The guy in the black mask is called a Merdule. He symbolises the bond between man and nature. Sardinians have always been shepherds so the ritual is also to protect the flock against evil. The Merdule does this quite literally – beating villagers and chasing them away from the “sheep”.

The Merdule hit me on the legs with his whip. It was really painful. Then he did it again. And again. I realised it was going to go on all the day, though it wasn’t just for me of course: all Sardinians were being terrorised. Although the atmosphere was mostly fun, there was a scary, violent undercurrent.

In the German Alps, where devils called Krampus chased people, I saw a man – clearly from out of town – getting really upset and swearing because he’d been hit. A policeman had to calm him down and explain it was just the local custom.

I’ve been chased by devils through the mountains. I’ve run naked through fields in Latvia. I’ve been drenched in all kinds of stuff – sometimes I never found out what it was. The rituals I attend often take place in small villages, on islands, or up in the mountains. Remoteness is perhaps why the customs survive.

The festivals bring communities together, but also give a feeling of local identity, especially as young people move away. On Terschelling, an island in the Netherlands, I met a man who flies from Sydney every year for a festival there.

The composition [of the photo] was intentional: masked men in the foreground, church in the background. The contrast between pagan and Christian, past and present, all comes together in this shot.

Having spent the day chasing villagers and performing small plays, the flock and the shepherd got tired and headed home. You have no idea who is behind the masks, so it’s a shock when they introduce themselves. I was invited back to the house of one masked men and ate homemade cheese and wine with his family. I had been beaten up – but by some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.

Source: theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/21/friso-spoelstras-best-photograph
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To all the students returning to school: May Odin inspire you with creativity in your quest for wisdom, may Thor grant you strength in these difficult times, and may Freyja lend you wings to rise above all the trolls of the world.
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Breaking: Author Freya Aswynn has been banned from the international Ásatrú and Heathen organization the Troth for violating policy against "any use of Germanic religion and culture to advance causes of racism, sexism, homophobia, white supremacy, ableism, or any other form of prejudice."

The Troth's leadership has now "rescinded her status as Elder" and "terminated her Lifetime Membership."

Read the organization's official statement at https://www.thetroth.org/news/20180814-203852
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HEATHEN SOUTH: INTERVIEW WITH RYAN DENISON
https://wildhunt.org/2018/07/column-heathen-south-interview-with-ryan-denison.html

My new column at +The Wild Hunt features an interview with Ryan Denison, one of the organizers of Mystic South, a Pagan conference that "highlights the Southern flair and mystic spirit of our own part of the country."

Ryan is also Georgia Steward and Chairman of the Scholarship Committee for the international Ásatrú and Heathenry organization known as The Troth. He's co-founder and clergy member of The Berkano Hearth Union and co-founder of Heathen Men United.

I hope you enjoy the interview!
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THOR'S GOATS AND GEAR
from the Edda by Snorri Sturluson*

Thor has two he-goats, that are called Tooth Gnasher and Tooth Gritter, and a chariot wherein he drives, and the he-goats draw the chariot. Therefore is he called Driving Thor.

He has also three things of great price. One is the hammer Mjöllnir, which the Frost Giants and the Mountain Giants know, when it is raised on high; and that is no wonder; it has smashed many a skull among their fathers or their kinsmen.

He has a second costly thing, best of all: the Girdle of Might. And when he clasps it about him, then the god-strength within him is doubled.

Yet a third thing he has, in which there is much virtue: his iron gloves. He cannot do without them when he grips the hammer.

But no one is so wise that he can tell all his mighty works, yet I can tell you so many tidings of him that the hours would be spent before all that I know were told.

* The Edda is the featured FREE eBook at The Norse Mythology Online Library: https://www.norsemyth.org/p/books.html
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Dear +Chicago Cubs,

I know he's a bit under the weather right now, but please consider acquiring Noah Syndergaard before the trade deadline.

It's been a while since Walter Simonson told tales of Thor in Chicago for Marvel Comics, and we could use some thunder on the pitcher's mound.
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You're welcome.
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MILLIONS UPON MILLIONS...
The +Norse Mythology Blog just passed 2.1 million visitors! If you're not already following the website, visit https://www.norsemyth.org/ and click the blue "Follow" button in the right-hand column. If you're on a mobile phone, first scroll down and click "View web version" at the bottom. Thank you for your support!
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A NEW HOPE
https://www.norsemyth.org/2018/07/a-new-hope.html
My new article at The +Norse Mythology Blog examines some dark elements of the current era through the lens of the Ragnarök prophecy, discusses how Ásatrú and Heathen ideals can inspire us to work for positive change, and turns to the words of Odin to find inspiration and hope for a better future.
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Thor's Oak Kindred: Midsummer Blót

On July 7, we held our annual Midsummer Blót in Chicago. Members and guests gathered to celebrate the anniversary of the kindred's founding, to hail Thor and those who have come before us, to make an offering into the sacred fire, and to ask the Thunderer for his blessing. We also had a fantastic feast and a celebration with our friends and loved ones.

We wish all the best to you and yours! For more about our organization and the Ásatrú religion, visit https://www.thorsoak.info
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7/16/18
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