Rokkatru for Dummies
By: LokisDottir / Knowledgeable Aug 11, 2015
Post # 1
What is Rokkatru?
Rokkatru (a term meaning "true to the Rokkr") is a term coined by Abby Helasdottir and later used by Raven Kaldera in some of his workings and within the group known as Northern Paganism. It is a term that describes a branch of Norse paganism (Heathenry) focusing on the jotnar (the Giant spirits/wights) and the more chaotic deities from the Norse pantheon in general. Many of the being lumped into the Rokkr category are primordial concepts and elemental wights, such as fire, ice, earth, death, etc.
Heathens in general draw their sources from the direct lore (The Eddas, Sagas, and any surviving historical texts). They also incorporate an understanding of modern research, linguistic analysis and anthropological study in order to truly try and reconstruct their practice. However, UPG (unverified personal gnosis) plays a huge role in this reconstructed faith, and especially in more diverse branches of Heathenry like Rokkatru. Sometimes there is little preserved information about particular deities and wights, so it is up to the individual within the practice to collect as much information as they can and explore the matter themselves.
Which deities and spirits are involved?
A variety of deities and wights (spirits) are worked with in Rokkatru. Some of the main Gods are Loki, Angrboda, Hel, Fenrir, Sigyn, Jormungandr, Surtr, Narvi/Vali, Mordgud, Mengloth, Nidhoggr, etc. There are many different "types" of Jotnar that can be worked with. The Jotnar tend to be grouped together based on what element they are associated with: ice-thurses, fire-etins, sea giants, sky-etins, mountain-jotnar, and so on.
To be a rokkatruar is to try and understand the nature of the Rokkr and the Jotnar. Many texts will try to depict Heathenry as being "black and white", where the Aesir Gods are "good" and the Rokkr Gods/Jotnar are "bad". This is truly not the case. "We must also remember that fact that (although) we see their actions as bad, they are not inherently evil. The storm destroys the crops, but it also brings cleansing and renewal. We humans are only one species on this planet and in the end we are both expendable and irrelevant to nature. This is the manner in which the Jotunn act, and it is not surprising that we see this as evil" (OurTroth).
Some view the Jotnar as being "enemies of the Gods", as it is true that some have ill intent towards the Aesir and fight with them at Ragnarok. However, Jotnar as a type of wight are very diverse. Like us, they have the potential to be good, bad and anywhere inbetween on the spectrum. The "The relationship between god/esses and etin-kind is often rather ambiguous: often the gods come as guests into etin-halls, sometimes even with apparently friendly intentions" (OurTroth). Many Jotnar are married to the Aesir or interact with them in some form or another. Freyr is married to a Jotnar giantess. Heck, Jotnar blood is found throughout most of the main Aesir themselves. There is truly no "good vs evil" concept when it comes to the Gods and the Jotnar.
How is it practiced?
I often like to say, "if you gather ten heathens in a room- you will have ten different ways of practicing heathenry". The same applies for Rokkatru. There are no standard ways of worship or practice. You do not have to honor specific deities while shunning others. You do not have set holidays or magical practices. You, as the individual, craft your own path. What ties Rokkatru together is simply the honoring of the Rokkr. Much of Rokkatru depends on UPG (unverified personal gnosis) and your own personal interpretation of lore, deities, wights, etc.
Though it is incredibly individualized, some Rokkatruars tend to pull their practice from bits of other branches of Heathenry (such as the blots and sumbels described in Asatru). Of course, altars and offerings are still commonly set up for the respective deities and used for invocations, ritual purposes, etc. There are many magical workings which can be incorporated into this practice. It would seem that a good portion of those who consider themselves Rokkatruars are associated with Northern Tradition Shamanism (mainly due to overlapping ideology, I believe). Pathwalking and journeying (projection methods in general) seem to be of importance to this practice, as it is seen as one of the most direct ways to communicate with the wights involved.
Seidr is a magical practice which is slowly being revived by some Heathens in general. In simplest terms, seidr typically involves an altered state or trance that is used to commune with the wights. It can be used for divinatory purposes, cursing, healing, channeling and mediumship, among many other things. This, along with Soul-Craft magic in general, is something I have seen incorporated into the magical side of Rokkatru.
There's much more than just that, but again- very individualized.
What are the issues with Rokkatru?
Rokkatru is sometimes confused with another branch of Heathenry known as "Thursatru". Thursatru is a much smaller branch than Rokkatru, with a widely different view on the Rokkr and chaotic forces of nature. While Rokkatru attempts to understand and honor the Rokkr for their respective roles in the pantheon, Thursatru is more of a neo-gnostic left hand path. Some Heathens call it the "2 Spooky 4 U" branch. This is often a group of people who are slightly fluffy, and hold the belief that the beings they work with are pure evil, chaotic darkness and that they enjoy worshiping such "evil" and wish Ragnarok (the end times) to come, etc. This branch has been deemed fluffy, and most of the people in it are just rebellious practitioners who do not necessarily understand Heathenry as a whole. Read more about that issue here:
"Spiritual politics" are still an ongoing issue in the Heathen community. Rokkatru is considered a very controversial branch of Heathenry, much like the Lokean branch (which sometimes overlaps: not all Rokkatruars are Lokeans but some Lokeans may be Rokkatruars). Some strict belief Heathens (for example Asatruars or Odinists) have a strong dislike of Rokkatru: they believe that those who work with the destructive aspects of the pantheon are "new agey left hand followers" who invite chaos and destruction into their lives. Some have expressed that they view Rokkatruars as betraying their Gods, the Aesir, and therefore being an enemy of the Gods and mankind in general. Of course, not all Heathens clash heads like this! However, as it stands, Rokkatruars and Lokeans have yet to be widely accepted in the Heathen community at large. This issue seems to largely be centered in the USA/UK- as it's been suggested that Scandinavian Heathens have less of a taboo about working with the jotnar.
Some take issue with the fact that "jotnar, etin, thurse etc were not worshipped by our ancestors". There is some evidence that does suggest that sacrifices were made to the jotnar in olden times ("to them" and not necessarily "share with them" as they would normally with the Gods). Many modern Rokkatruars disregard this and view it as irrelevant: they honor and work with the Rokkr now, in the present, and that is all that matters to their practice.
Welcome to Heathenry Post
What a lot of people don't tend to see (if they are not part of the Rokkatru/Lokean group or those friendly towards us) is that even though the Rokkr are seen as more primal aspects of nature, they are still people with diverse personalities and dispositions. Even working with Loki's Jotunn family displays that.Jormungandr is friendly and very forward if he chooses to work with someone and he is more likely to be involved with his devotees than Fenris-Ulfr. I've done work with both, but Fenris-Ulfr is more about inducing the experience and then going on about his way.
I personally include the Dokkalfar in the Rokkr as lore and my gnosis tends to group the Dokkalfar with the Jotnar. If I had to describe their racial differences, it would be like the Jotnar are more primal chaotic whereas the Dokkalfar are a more refined chaotic nature.However, the differing personalties and disposition applies to the Dokkalfar as well.
The Dokkalfar teach me many things, as the Rokkr typically do. Their personalities are very sharp and clean, like a blade, and can be offputing to those who are regarded as "outsiders" who don't understand their culture as well. As they have many associations, they can teach about several aspects of the uglier sides of nature, such as death, decay, the neccessities of the hunt, doing what needs to be done, and plenty of things I'll get more into at another point in time.
Jormungandr is often said to teach about change in the form of liminality; the state of in-between in the process of transition. I find this to be very true and he applies the concept in many, many ways. He is one to go to if one seeks aid in trance.
Fenris-Ulfr has induced trance in me as well, but it was more oriented to the Gangr state (noting that the Hrimthursar where accomplices in the experience). While not everyone experiences the Gangr state through deep anger and intense heat and cold, I did. I felt as though Fenris-Ulfr was showing me what it was like to experience things from his perspective and I found I could relate on a smaller scale. While he can come off as very predatorial, he has more to his personality as many who work with him would say.
Hela teaches me about following through with my words. She is more distant than her siblings in my case and she's not really one to mess around. I suppose I could describe her as stern, but I don't feel that quite covers her personality properly. I feel she can be seen as taking her work and role very seriously.
Angrboda is very family oriented, though I would definitely not peg her as the "Mother Goddess" trope often seen in Neopagan material. She is harsh, but very accepting of those she considers her own and she likes displays of effort and refining skills, even in the subtle realms. Her presence isn't as in one's face as Jormungand's is as she first communicated with me during a dream involving many dead, malformed crows in the first building of my childhood schooling. She and Jormungandr share in pointing out the darker aspects of my childhood that I often ignored at the time because I was very closed in on myself by shutting off everything not in my own little world.
Aegir teaches hospitality and respect for others. He let me know how to honor him while working at a bakery; as he is known for hosting parties, one can honor him through making food for such a party.
Surtr isn't as involved with me as to teach me a lesson, though my experience with him was very inviting as we used a bonfire medium to connect to Muspelheimr.
Even with the varying dispositions, one thing is definite when it comes to the deities and Vaettir of Rokkatru: they are not for everyone and they are not happy go lucky folk who will prance about and feed some love and light notion. They will quickly flip any person upsidedown to show them what they're doing wrong. However, even as harsh as they can come off to people, it is very rewarding to have the connections we do with them in that we can feel more primal aspects of our personalities and strip away human concepts to fully experience ourselves.
Re: Rokkatru for Dummies
By: LokisDottir / Knowledgeable Aug 21, 2015
Post # 5
Sorry it took me so long to get back to you! I've had some issues with internet connectivity lately..
I really enjoyed (and agreed with) your perceptions of many of the Rokkr deities and their respective lessons. Having worked with a good portion of them, I can say that it has definitely been an educational kind of experience for me. They have much to teach.
This is one of the main reasons I support Rokkatru and those exploring outside of the "normal" pantheon (assumedly the Aesir). I believe that even though the Rokkr, and some of the wights like the Jotnar, are more primal and chaotic- they still serve a purpose and have their own lessons to teach. You do not have to throw yourself directly into a fire to learn about its many uses and its importance. I think that working with the Jotnar and the Rokkr is not for everyone, but that everyone can still try to understand them and honor the role they do serve.