Celestial Gods, Turning and Shining

 Sunrise over Haleakala photo by Ewen Roberts via creative commons license

Sunrise over Haleakala
photo by Ewen Roberts via creative commons license

My own Heathenry is very much earth-based and centered on the world around me. I honor my ancestors in the soil, my Goddess is the earth personified, and I have deep roots and relationships with the land around me. But a big part of the natural world around us is looking up – up to the stars, to the round pearl of the moon, to the warm and life-giving sun.

This has always been a large part of my devotional practice. In the morning, I greet the dawn, the sun, and the day: Eostre, Sunna, and Daeg. In the evening, I greet the stars and the night, and when I spot Mani in the sky I say a prayer to Him as well.

I live in a rather extreme climate, where temperatures swing more than 100 degrees from summer to winter (though I’m sure those living farther north will claim I am a sweet summer child!). The sun, the turning of the seasons, and the loss of warmth and light affect me strongly. I remember being a tiny child and stretching my arms up to the sky in the spring, thanking the sun for returning and begging its warmth to sink into my bones.

We know the sun was very important to at least some Germanic tribes; I have mentioned before the many archaeological finds of sun representations. I argue that the moon was also a very important. Many have argued that the moon was an essential part of Germanic timekeeping.

The Morning Star photo by jpstanley via creative commons license

The Morning Star, photo by jpstanley
via creative commons license

We also have some evidence for other celestial objects being honored. The poem Crist by Cynewulf  speaks of the planet Venus, saying “Hail Earendel, brightest of angels, over Middle-earth to men sent”. Earendel is an Anglo-Saxon cognate to the Norse Aurvandil, whose toe is said to be a star placed in the heavens by Thor. Both names can be very roughly translated to mean ‘dawn-wanderer’.

In the Eddas, we learn about a few deities that are not the sun or the moon, but rather times of day that are personified: Nott (night), Delling (the dawn), and their son Daeg (day). Laine at Pagan Church Lady has posted a fantastic overview of her emerging UPG concerning Delling, which is very similar to my own about Daeg – He is said to take after His father! Interestingly Nott is also listed as the mother of Jord, the personified earth, by another deity, making Her the grandmother of Thor.

For me, my earth-centered practice relies on an acknowledgement of the natural world all around me; which includes not only the earth but the celestial bodies that surround and influence Her, the cycles and shining light that have such a profound effect on my own day to day life. It seems these deities are little-mentioned in modern Heathenry, which probably stems from the tiny amount of information that has survived about Them.

These deities are an important and valuable part of my life, not just as the sun or the moon, but their individual presences and beings. Greeting Eostre each morning, especially now as autumn falls, She reminds me that spring will come around again just as the dawn follows each night. For me She she is green and gold, buds and blooms, and I take so much comfort in Her presence each morning.

Super Moon photo by  Marie-Marthe Gagnon via creative commons license

Super Moon, photo by Marie-Marthe Gagnon
via creative commons license

To me Sunna comes as a fiery, passionate, and sometimes downright angry Goddess. She gives warmth and light, but Her nature comes across to me as tempestuous; one moment She is laughing heartily and the next Her hair and eyes burn with Her temper. Mani shows Himself to me as a gentle God, especially caring for children and those trapped in bad situations. He understands but also illuminates the darkness.

In my experience, Nott is black as the night, dark and mysterious and full of magic. There are reasons English has expressions like “the witching hour” or beliefs that demons and devils come out at night. It is a time when spirits are more strongly felt, and I experience Nott as both the originator of that energy and She who ushers those wights to more fully present themselves. In some ways, I believe our culture’s attitudes about the night are a manifestation of the nature of the Goddess rather than the other way around.

These are a few of my observations, things I have seen and learned when interacting with these deities. Others may have different opinions or experiences, and I would so love to hear about them – what I would really like is to foster a conversation about these often-overlooked Gods and Goddesses. Please link me some posts, write some comments, and let’s talk about the daily presence of these celestial deities!

**Author’s Note** Originally, this post contained the following paragraph: I argue that the moon was also a very important. Many have argued, including the White Marsh Theod which does a fantastic reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon calendar based on the moon (and I have linked this on waybackmachine, as it does not appear on their current site), that the moon was an essential part of Germanic timekeeping.

The reference to White Marsh Theod was removed at the request of the organization, as was the link to their article, which was not posted on the current site as the authors state it is outdated compared to current scholarship. I have preserved the paragraph here as accountability for both myself and my commenters.

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About Molly Khan