Past Workshops & Classes

ECT 2018 Workshops

Heathen Motherhood in Theory and Practice – Annie Cúglas Humphrey (Blog Link)

Historically, definitions of womanhood centred around motherhood. Gender essentialism is thankfully eroding in today’s inclusive heathenry, yet the assumptions of motherhood persist even in the most progressive communities. Heathen women who are in- or sub-fertile, non-binary people and transgender women, and women who choose not to bear children frequently suffer from indirect but pervasive pressure to become mothers. Those who become pregnant or adopt then encounter the ‘mommy track’ of heathenry, where their identity becomes sidelined by the functions of motherhood. Heathen women become mothers instead of their former selves, while heathen men become fathers in addition to their prior roles. Many female saga figures, like Auðr djúpúðga and Freydís Eiríksdóttir, and goddesses, like Skaði and Freyja, are mothers; yet they function with few ‘domestic’ attributes. Meanwhile, heathenry is not alone in facing issues about maternal identity, as much modern secular scholarship concerns motherhood and its implications. As inclusive heathens interested in bettering everyone’s access to the gods, we must consider how heathen mothers, and women who are not mothers, are best served by the community.


FUTHARK: An Introduction to the 1st Six – Mike Smith (Download)

In this workshop, presented by Mike Smith (Úlfar aff Jera Þjóð), an introduction into the first six runes of the Elder/Younger Futhark will be presented. Question and answers will follow, time permitting.


Ascending the Steps to Hliðskjálf – Jósúa Hróðgeir Rood (Download)

Odin is commonly portrayed as the Sovereign ruler of gods and men. This portrayal has shaped how modern Asatruar relate to him. But it is natural to ask how Odin developed into the ruling, “Allfather” that we are presented with. Josh Rood will shed light on this process, arguing when, where and how Odin first began to be associated with sovereignty, what roles his cult may have played for those who worshiped him, and offering us a glimpse of Odin prior to his becoming “Allfather”. The presentation will end with a discussion of how Asatruar can apply this information to our own relationship with not only Odin, but the ancient Heathenism from which the inspiration for our own living religion is derived.


The Potion With the Poison, the Brew That is True – Ann “Gróa” Sheffield (Download)

With few exceptions, drinks with ‘magical’ properties – draughts of forgetfulness and memory-enhancement, poisoned drinks, ‘love potions’ – in Old Norse literature are produced and deployed by female characters. Even in situations that are more ambiguous, a woman’s involvement is often stated or implied. Scholarly analysis of the role of such magically potent liquids, however, has generally emphasised the myth of the mead of poetry, its connection with the god Óðinn, and its significance to the (primarily male) skalds who so often refer to it. In this presentation, I will focus instead on literary representations of women as brewers and bestowers of drinks of power in Eddic poetry, the Sagas of Icelanders, the fornaldarsögur, and other medieval Scandinavian texts and draw some tentative conclusions about women’s connection with “drinks of power.”


Rhythm, Music, and Dance in Ritual – Mike Smith (Download)

This discussion and presentation will be about dance and rhythm of a ritual context in past and modern Ásatrú. Examples in archeology and literature will be examined and discussed.


ECT 2017 Workshops

Urban Nature – Paul “Gage” Mercurio (Download)

In 2014, the UN documented that over half the people on this planet live in urban areas. Our world-affirming faith focuses on nature and connecting with the landvaettir.  Yet for most of us, we do not live in untouched natural areas.  How can we connect with the built environment in addition to the natural one?  What analogs to natural features can be found in urban environments?  What does community mean when does not know one’s neighbors?  And what do the terms “urban” or “natural” even mean?  Utilizing concepts from environmental psychology, economic geography and landscape architecture, we will train ourselves to see natural connections is some of the most built up places.  The ultimate aspiration of this workshop is to have people feel as connected with nature in Times Square as in the Adirondacks.


Mead from an Eagle – Eirik Westcoat (Download)

Eirik recites the best of his award-winning poetry in traditional Germanic meters, including all of his past ECT Skaldic Competition entries and never-before-heard-at-ECT pieces from his first book, Viking Poetry for Heathen Rites.  If there is sufficient participation, one of the three ritual dramas from the book will be recited also, with members of the audience taking on the various roles.


ECT 2016 Workshops


Lenses and the Lore: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory – Dave Iverson (Download)

This is a beginner’s exploration into literary theory and how it might be applied to the sagas, eddas, et al. for deeper analysis and ancillary interpretations.  There will be little to no actual lore dissected, as this is a “101” class only meant to exhibit the tools and show how and why they are used; application of discussed theories will be presented at future follow up presentations.


Thor’s ‘Other’ ToolsAustin “Auz” Lawrence (Download)

Thor is most associated with his ownership of Mjollnir, the mighty hammer.  Less familiar are the gifts he received from Grið; his belt Megingjörð, his staff Gríðarvölr, and his gloves Járngreipr. This workshop will outline instances from early medieval prose and skaldic literature where these tools are mentioned, discuss instances of how belts, staves, and gloves were used by ur-Heathens in religious and sorcerous rites, as well as offer speculation on the possible symbolic and theological meaning of these tools. If there is time, there will be a description of the application of these symbols in an esoteric rite that took place at the Hail and Horn Gathering 2016.


Dimensions of Heathenism – Ann “Gróa” Sheffield (Download)

Why do non-Heathens (and new Heathens) often have difficulty coming to grips with how Heathens view and do things? What are the roots of some of the divisions within modern Heathenry? Drawing on work by scholars of religion, including Ninian Smart’s “dimensions of the sacred” and Stephen Prothero’s insight that different religions respond to different existential questions, we will explore how these concepts might apply to Heathenism – can they help us better articulate our underlying assumptions and our aspirations for the future? The presenter will offer more questions than answers, and lively discussion is anticipated and encouraged!


Runes: In Study and Application – Mike Smith (Download)

In the workshop, we will very briefly discuss magic, runes, how magic was viewed historically, and how they can be used for application in one’s life to inspire, remind, and empower the practitioner.


The Skald in the Probable Works of Snorri Sturluson – Eirik Westcoat (Download)

Snorri was clearly aiming to promote skaldic poetry by writing Edda. Kevin Wanner’s book, Snorri Sturluson and the Edda argues that he wrote it to shore up the power of skaldic verse to gain rewards  in the Norwegian court. If so, did it end there? It is generally agreed that he also wrote Heimskringla, and there is a strong possibility that he wrote Egils saga as well. So, this presentation looks how the figure of the skald is depicted in these works, with an eye to to how it may be an idealized image that promotes a demand for skalds by the Norwegian court and a desire to be a skald by Icelanders. A vision of the skald may indeed be derived from these works. It is a multi- faceted vision that orients the skald with respect to the gods, the past, myth, poetry itself, training, duties, relations to others, and more.

This presentation is based on Eirik’s recent MA/MPhil thesis. In some ways, it is an expansion of topics addressed in his 2014 ECT Workshop, “Using the Norse Mead Myth for Creative Inspiration.”


The Valknut: Heart of the Slain? – Eirik Westcoat (Download)

The valknut is a mysterious symbol of three interlocking triangles — yet it has become a popular sign of dedication to Odin in modern Asatru. But what might it have meant to Viking Age Scandinavia? This presentation looks at a variety of Old Norse evidence to demonstrate an interpretation of the valknut as the ideal, steady, and brave heart of the slain warrior — the sort that is chosen for Valhalla — and that it is connected with Hrungnir’s Heart (in Snorri’s tale of the duel with Thor) because the latter, being made of stone, is an exemplar of steadiness. Etymologies, kennings, skaldic poetry, Vǫlsunga saga, Gotland picture stones, and more will be included. You might never look at your valknut the same way again after this! True to Eirik’s skaldic style, some poetic invocations for making effective use of this perspective will also be offered to the attendees.

This presentation is based on Eirik’s recent article in Óðrœrir: The Heathen Journal.


Information about the speakers is available here.