What is a Heathen Gythia?

The word Gythia translates more or less as Priestess or Godwoman. One who counseled Rulers, who spoke to and sometimes for the Gods, preformed ceremonies, and knew the old stories. In times of old, they wove magical protections for their clans, and knew the secrets of the plants to bring about healing. Or at least, the modern trope would have us believe.

Some of these romantic ideas are spoken of in the records of the times. They did certainly provide counsel, acted as psycho-pomps and knew healing arts both magical and herbal. They told the clan’s stories and knew the songs to summon spirits. Because of this, they were both respected and feared.

As a modern Gythia, I provide many of these same services, from reading the Runes (and Tarot Cards if you prefer), to pastoral counseling and rites of passage.

heathen runes laid out on a cowhide with a necklace made of amber, onyx, and bird skull charms.

She sees rising up a second time
the earth from the ocean, ever-green;
the cataracts tumble, an eagle flies above,
hunting fish along the fell.

-the Voluspa, verse 59

Practicing Modern Heathenry

Heathenry is much more than Viking Wanna-Bes. It is the pre-Christian path of the Germanic Language speaking world.

As a feminist, an environmentalist, and a perpetual optimist, the above verse has always spoken to me of the true nature of Heathenry. It is from the prophecy Volsupa, one of the Eddic Poems, and it describes the new world that rises after the Twilight of the Gods. It calls to my soul, to my hopes for the world. A renewal of both the Earth itself and a flowering of the Old Ways.

There are many aspects to modern Heathenry worthy of exploring: from ancient texts, to herbalism, to communion with the Ancestors. Heathenry is a rich tradition full of mysteries and practices to bring one into balance with the world around us. It is a tradition that spread from the British Isles all the way to Kiev in Russia, from the Northern reaches of the Arctic all the way to the banks of the River Rhine.

Find out More:

Delve deeper into exploring modern feminist heathenry:

The Runes in a Feminist Perspective:

The Havamal tells us that the Alfather hung on Yggdrassil, the world tree, for nine nights to discover the Runes.  Rune, from the Old Norse run-, means mystery or secret, and a seeress who studies the runes finds hidden patterns to shed light on our path..

Like many aspects of the modern Heathen movement, the Runes are sometimes linked to the German Nazi party and modern white supremacists.  It is unfortunate that many of the Sacred Symbols of Heathenry have been perverted in this way.  While some of those symbols, the Swastika in particular, are beyond redemption, as an Inclusive and Feminist Heathen I am unwilling to give up the Runes.  More than symbols, the Runes speak to us, they are inherently magical, and their meanings in no way reflect the ideals of racism and bigotry. 

The mysteries of the past still echo today in the Runes. We learn, and we place them into a modern context. One which values all living things as worthy.

Do you have questions?

Find out what a gythia connected to the gods has to say:

The journey to find truth can be winding and difficult. Let Gythia be your guide in that process.

Snow has been a practicing Heathen for more than a decade and is currently an ordained Godswoman (or Gythia) through The Troth.  Over the last ten years, she has served as an advisor to incarcerated Heathens and Prison Chaplains, working to bring Inclusive Heathenry ‘inside’ as well as worked as a Steward, or community organizer for Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  She is a member of the Interfaith Clergy Association of Greater Lansing, where she is one of very few pagans or polytheists. 

Snow is primarily dedicated to Skadi, although she works closely with Odin and Thor as well, and in 2019 she published Lady of the Mountain Hall: A Skadi Devotional.