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Prayer [Feb. 13th, 2009|12:11 am]
Allfathers Own


I'm having a little trouble in regards to prayer. Briefly a little background, I was born and raised Catholic. I've been pagan for almost a decade now, give or take. I came to the Norse early on, had a really bad experience (taking someone's word for granted who was full of shit and made me question myself) and lost faith in just about everything for awhile, experimented with different pagan cultures (Celtic mostly) and then came back to Asatru (and ADF).

However, in all this time I can't say I've really prayed for anything important to me. I pray for guidance, and strength and other daily things...but nothing I've put all my hope into.

Now I'm stumped. I'm not sure how I feel about praying for something like this. I know the Catholic view, you pray for what you want and it does or doesn't happen and that's God's way of answering your prayer. In theory, I guess it would work the same with Odin (my Patron, and the reason this question is going here).

So I guess my whole point is: What's your experience praying in the Heathen religion? How do you see it?

I'll state that I don't just expect Odin to grant my prayer, I know there will be work involved. I'm just really unsure and was hoping to get some ideas from around the community.

Thanks in advance.

[User Picture]From: nachtrabe
2009-02-13 07:05 am (UTC)
Prayer is a vital and necessary part of my practice.

You might be interested in Sigdrifa’s Prayer: An Exploration & Exegesis by Galina Krasskova, an Odisnwoman and Northern Tradition for the Solitary Practitioner, by Galina Krasskova and Raven Kaldera, a Shaman of Hel.

Both books talk extensively about the need for prayer and the question of "why pray."

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[User Picture]From: suicidekttn
2009-02-13 04:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'll have to check those out!
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[User Picture]From: aeon_of_maat
2009-02-13 07:26 am (UTC)
well, the thing is...
prayer is kind of a x-tian thing.. they pray to their god and if anyone answers its either the devil, or metatron.

heathens don't generally pray to their gods. they talk with them. If Odin is your patron by his choice and not your own conceit, he will show himself to you. As an Odinist myself, I find that the whole concept of praying to Odin a bit silly. He has never come off as the 'superior being' that other religions would have you believe the gods are. They are different than us, but limited in ways that we are not, just as we are limited in ways that they are not. the relationship between a heathen god and a human is one of alliance, more than worship. Most of the time when I have a need, I'm reminded that it is much better to go out and get it than to sit at home praying that it will appear magically. honour is won by valour. things won by hardship are prized much higher than those things that fall into your lap magically. Odin may be able to make things happen, but he's usually too busy to bother. often he refers me to one of the valkyries when I call on him for petty concerns. more often, he says "why can't you do that yourself, you're an adult". In other words "ask not what your godform can do for you, ask what you can do for your godform". Its beyond reciprocal when you give, and take costs too much in the long run.
I don't recommend prayer. I recommend direct conversation. my own experience is that if you are in troth, the heathen gods answer you in ways that are uncannily real. this is perhaps why the christians were so afraid of them. when you call Thor, if lightning and hail don't rain down on you, then he's not paying attention to you. Odin is the same, but totally different.
I hope that helps.
good luck.
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[User Picture]From: aeon_of_maat
2009-02-13 06:49 pm (UTC)
i remember emo phillips doing stand-up:
"when I was a boy I used to pray to god over and over "oh god, please get me a bicycle. all I want is a bicycle". then one day i realized that god in his infinite wisdom didn't work that way, so I stole one and asked him to forgive me".
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[User Picture]From: suicidekttn
2009-02-13 04:57 pm (UTC)
I should state that when I say prayer, I do mean talking to my gods. I did it that way when I was Xian and I do it now.

I also believe in action, and have taken steps towards achieving it myself...but it's a really tricky situation, but it matters greatly to me. So I pray.

He is my patron by his choice, but recently I have accepted it. I'm just still not sure what to expect besides a lot of growth.

Thanks for your input!
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[User Picture]From: nachtrabe
2009-02-13 04:59 pm (UTC)
Historical evidence is that heathens *did* pray to their gods. From Ibn Fadlan's Account of the Rus:

When the ships come to this mooring place, everybody goes ashore with bread, meat, onions, milk and intoxicating drink and betakes himself to a long upright piece of wood that has a face like a man's and is surrounded by little figures, behind which are long stakes in the ground. The Rus prostrates himself before the big carving and says, "O my Lord, I have come from a far land and have with me such and such a number of girls and such and such a number of sables", and he proceeds to enumerate all his other wares. Then he says, "I have brought you these gifts," and lays down what he has brought with him, and continues, "I wish that you would send me a merchant with many dinars and dirhems, who will buy from me whatever I wish and will not dispute anything I say." Then he goes away.

Not to mention the surviving pieces such as Sigdrifa's Prayer:

Hail to the Day!
Hail to Day's sons.
Hail to the Night and her daughters
With loving eyes look upon us here
And bring victory to those who have gathered

Hail to the gods
Hail to the goddesses
Hail to the mighty, fecund Earth
Eloquence and native wit bestow on us
and healing hands while we live

Prayer isn't necessarily about "asking for things," though it can serve that purpose, but is rather a way of touching the Divine.
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[User Picture]From: aeon_of_maat
2009-02-13 06:47 pm (UTC)
that's a semantic argument.
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[User Picture]From: heartofmoon
2009-02-13 10:07 pm (UTC)
Umm...yours is equally semantic.
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[User Picture]From: aeon_of_maat
2009-02-13 10:24 pm (UTC)
i agree. in which case, why are we arguing?
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[User Picture]From: razorsharpblade
2009-02-13 09:50 am (UTC)
My questions in response to your questions (sound like Someone?) would be what are you seeking from the prayer activity? Is it about asking for something and getting it or not getting it? Is it about conversation, devotionally focussed or a meditation-y kind of thing and attending to the God/s you are praying to?

Prayer, like any other ritual act, can have many purposes and I would say it does have a role within Heathen practice - including as one word that some may choose to use for the talk that they have with their Gods.
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[User Picture]From: suicidekttn
2009-02-13 04:58 pm (UTC)
It is about many things to me :)

Thanks for reminding me.
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From: rya_kelley
2009-02-13 11:31 am (UTC)
I'm like you, I suppose. I only ask for wisdom, protection, and guidance, never for things I want or for circumstances to go in my favor. I figure if I work hard and strive, then I never have to pray for those things. Also, I find that I get spectacular responses for what I do pray. I've never prayed for guidance without getting hit almost at once by an epiphany. Odin has also taught me some invaluable lessons.

I hope that helps. Wow, this was my first time commenting in the comm.
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[User Picture]From: suicidekttn
2009-02-13 05:02 pm (UTC)
I agree, but in this situation what I'm trying to achieve was "taken" from me and there was really nothing I could do about it...now I'm just working on bettering myself and getting my things in order because really it's all I can do. Then I will attempt it again, but it meant so much to me that sometimes I feel lost. Hence my praying.

It does help, thanks. Yay for commenting ;)
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From: rya_kelley
2009-02-13 05:24 pm (UTC)
I see what you're saying. I find signs everywhere, though. For example, the most recent thing that happened with me is that--I'm a wanna be writer, just for backstory--the three people I wanted to beta a short story I was writing couldn't. One got sick, one got busy, one couldn't open the document I sent her. I thought that was a little weird so I wondered what the gods were trying to tell me. Should i not bother with the whole writing thing?

The second I had the epiphany "HEY, YOU'RE NOT A SHORT STORY WRITER! YOU DO NOVELS!" one of my betas got back to me.

For me, that's how the gods roll. ^_^
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[User Picture]From: suicidekttn
2009-02-13 05:29 pm (UTC)
I see signs too, sometimes I worry I see them too much but that's another story. :)

Mine's about a relationship. So it's tricky, and really all I can do is make myself better and then try again. It's up to the other person to do the same or not. I really do believe in the relationship though, and hope we can work something out.

Maybe I need to listen better though, maybe I'll find my answer that way.
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[User Picture]From: aeon_of_maat
2009-02-13 06:55 pm (UTC)
hmmm. meditate on hagalaz.
'taken from you'...
sounds like a change you were unprepared for. this makes things hard. our attachments are still alive, though the object of them is removed. one aspect of hagalaz is the hail-storm that smashes all the unhealthy attachments. this of course will lead to energy being more available for those things that are needed and healthy enough to survive the hailstorm. not that I can speak with authority on your problem without being involved in it, but often it is better to cut your losses and move on then to restart something that isn't good for you simply because you can't let go. that might just waste a lot of energy that you need to keep the rest of your 'garden' happy and healthy.
only you can answer that for yourself. I'm just asking the question.
bless you and good luck.
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[User Picture]From: suicidekttn
2009-02-13 07:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, it is something I consider every time I ask. It's why I didn't post the reason initially I get a lot of "You should just let it go..." etc.

I'm actually trying, either way, if it were to work or not I believe I need to let go of everything.

My hope is that one day it can happen for us again. I know there's a lot of risks with that, and I know I may also change my mind...and that's all cool. It will be what it is.

I will try meditating upon hagalaz though. I hadn't thought about that. Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: aeon_of_maat
2009-02-13 07:49 pm (UTC)
you're most welcome.
there may be 10 or 11 others who will love you better. you never know.
also, letting go doesn't necessarily lead to you not getting what you want. the opposite is often true. sometimes holding on internally creates a tension that drives people or situations off. relaxing internally leaves you open. then your world changes one way or the other.
letting go doesn't necessarily mean changing your feelings, just relaxing around them.
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[User Picture]From: suicidekttn
2009-02-14 03:28 am (UTC)
That is a good point as well. Worrying less is something I could definitely use more of :)
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[User Picture]From: aeon_of_maat
2009-02-14 05:00 am (UTC)
haha. same for us all.
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[User Picture]From: ificantheniwill
2009-02-13 03:17 pm (UTC)
Prayer's a vital and necessary part of my practice as well.

I respectfully disagree with the poster who suggests that prayer is solely a Christian practice, as not only do other Abrahamic religions pray, but so do modern Hindus, Buddhists, Shinto, etc. etc. etc. There is also historical documentation of European pagans praying, often for the same sort of things a Christian might have (deliverance of basic daily goods, smiting one's enemies and so forth).

I use prayer to grow closer to Odin and explore His mysteries (this goes for all my gods), to request help where and when I need it, to express gratitude for the good things in my life and to praise Them.
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[User Picture]From: suicidekttn
2009-02-13 05:03 pm (UTC)
I think maybe the term prayer threw them off. When I pray, it's always a conversation...so I use the term prayer *shrugs*

Thank you!
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[User Picture]From: aeon_of_maat
2009-02-13 06:57 pm (UTC)
haha. that's ok.
I knew when I posted it there would be contention. 'prayer' has many definitions, and my own assertion of 'talking directly' is often classified as 'prayer'. its merely a semantic argument to prove a point, not 'THE TRUTH' which no one can ever point at.
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[User Picture]From: lokis_dottir
2009-02-14 04:11 am (UTC)
You're not alone, many folks have big questions when it comes to prayer. My personal opinion of prayer has always been this: its merely a means of communication and a method of establishing and maintaining a relationship with Them. Just as you might tell a friend, or parent your hopes and dreams, ask for advice and guidance, speak of the things you are lacking or in need of... we should do the same with Them.

If you're so inclined I have written some musings on it in the past in my personal journal, which you may find useful to peruse:


I also second the suggestions of Krasskova's Sigdrifa's Prayer (I made the bookcover for that text so I suppose I'm biased). :)
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[User Picture]From: rantingmule
2009-04-16 01:35 pm (UTC)
I'm late to the party, story of my life. ;)

I don't pray unless it is something vitally important. I'm praying on and off now for a good friend who has been kind, generous and accepting of myself and many others who is now in need of surgery and cannot get the medical help he needs...his farm is broke and on the verge of bankruptcy and he may lose his home and probably some of his beloved horses...and he is struggling with the loss of his firstborn child and his wife's SEVERE depression.

For him, I will pray. I will make sacrifices and do what I can to try and draw the attention of the gods I revere to find a way to help him.

However, I don't pray often or frivolously. I find that to be a largely Christian thing...because prayers are seen as "free." Talking to a god is one thing, praying is another...to me, praying is asking a favour. Right there in the Havamal, "Better not to pray, than to sacrifice too much, one gift always calls for another(.)"

That being said I'm certainly not one to berate another for how they practice. I think one has to simply look to oneself and to the Lore and to what works best for them, and run with it. :) If praying a lot for day-to-day things works for you, fine. If not, that's fine too. Faith needs to be flexible, after all.
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