Heathen, Godi, Shaman,National Coordinator PFI
Interview with Sigurd
By Christopher Blackwell
Through one of my Russian friends in the Pagan Federation International, I was advised that the national coordinator Sigurd would be an interesting person to interview. As I did a little research I found that that there were a variety of things of interest and contacted him. He provided me with time for this interview.
Christopher: How did you end up becoming Heathen and which type of Heathen are we talking about? How long have you been practicing?
Sigurd: I became interested in the paganism in my childhood without realizing it at that time. At age 16, I became interested in magic and almost immediately discovered the existence of the Elder Futhark runes and galdr. After that, I tried a lot of other magic schools, but for me the runes were the most interesting to study and practice. I went through the runes to paganism – naturally to Asatru, because the runes are a part of this tradition.
After some time shamanism appeared in my life, I have chosen for myself (or I had no choice) Siberian shamanism, namely the tradition of Tuva. I have been practicing for 6 years.
Christopher: What is Skidbladnir? How and when did it come to be and what is your position in it. Where is it located
Sigurd: Skidbladnir is a Moscow Asatru community (we call it godord). I was one of the creators of this godord. It all started with a group of friends, who just got together and celebrated the feast of the Troth Wheel. On the feast of the Winter Nights in 2009, we decided to create a community and bring people together, because in Moscow, at the time, there was no Asatru community. Thus for the feast of the Winter Nights in 2012, our community celebrates 3 years. I served in the community as a Godi from its foundation to the present day.
Christopher: What is your community doing and what are your hopes for the future?
Sigurd: Our main line is to make rituals of the Troth Wheel, provide initiations (on request of people). We can say that our work in real life is quite closed, because in order to get to the ritual, you must at least visit a ting and introduced to the members of the godord. However, we see ourselves more as an open community, because there is no strict criteria for people.
In addition, we have recently launched several pilot thematic meetings to discuss some of the elements of mythology and beliefs of Northern Tradition. Maybe we will continue to do so in the fall. Our activities on the Internet more educational, we answer the questions, give information, posts and repost interesting events about paganism.
Our hopes for the future are the same as hopes of many Russian re-enactors and pagans – the creation of the village with pagan temple and re-enactors village. But it is quite difficult to do because Asatru is not officially a religion in Russia. We need our own funding, so we can’t talk not about religious activities, but instead social and cultural activities, in the case of the creation of re-enactors village – about tourism. Of course no one is saying that the tour will be conducted in the temple, but the theme of re-enactment offers a variety of tourist opportunities, which will at least help to pay for the land.
Christopher: Where can people learn more about your community?
Sigurd: You can view our website – www.skidbladnir.ru but the section with the English language has not been updated for a long time. Maybe after this interview, it is will be necessary to do it. In any case, the translation of articles takes a lot of time and effort. We also have a public in VK – http://vk.com/skidbladnir_gestur we are ready for communication in English and Russian languages.
Christopher: Could you tell us a bit about the Asatru Free Union? How and when was it formed? What Heathen communities does it connect?
Sigurd: Asatru Free Union was created quite recently, and has existed for too short a time to tell a long story about it. AFU (we call it FAU) was established this summer because of the split in Russian Asatruar society. In 2009, the Commonwealth of Russian Asatru was created , but it has not had time to gain many members, as most of the Russian Asatruar expressed dissatisfaction with the policy behavior of some of the leadership and their followers.
The Asatru Free Union was created after the split . The main essence of the FAU is that there is no collective membership, we do not see ourselves as an organization, but rather as a community of people with leaders of various projects. In FAU there is representatives from more than 5 Asatru communities from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Our main task is implementation of both social, more faith related projects, and spiritual development. Some examples of such projects we have a magazine Gyallarhorn, a project for the production of jewelry and amulets, a project to rebuild the folk dolls of different traditions, a project for the translation of the texts on the Old Norse and works of foreign authors, and more.
Christopher: What are you hopes for the Asatru Free Union?
Sigurd: The basic idea is to create some common ground for communication in the community of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian Asatruar such as on the Internet and in real life. In the Commonwealth of Russian Asatru, and before that in the Asatru community “Ragnar” (one of the oldest communities in Russian Asatru), practiced convening of the Althing, but after the split this event cannot be named Althing.
At the same time the allies of FAU, and the moderates, speak of the necessity of a certain general meeting once a year. We are going to organize similar events. On the Internet, it is planned to create a variety of information resources for the achievement of both the main goal of creating a yearly general meeting and the secondary one of providing information about paganism, creating different FAQs, giving information about the events and other things.
Christopher: Have you been able to form ties with other Heathen groups in Europe!
Sigurd: Of course, I’m the national coordinator of the PFI:) I met with the pagans from Ukraine, Belarus, Sweden and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, apparently, there is a certain taciturnity and a wish that all will leave you alone in not only Russian Asatruar, but also Asatruar from other countries. Wiccans, in my experience, much more talkative and ready for contact.
Christopher: What about the rest of the world?
Sigurd: I do not know whether to call the Republic of Tyva a part of Russia (legally it is certainly true, but in fact, in the west of Tuva Russian language is very rare), but it is the only Asian region with a tradition of which I am familiar with personally rather than by hearsay. I have never met with American, Australian and African pagans.
Christopher: How could other, learn more about the Asatru Free Union?
Sigurd: FAU was created recently, so we still have no website and the only way to contact us – group on VK http://vk.com/free_asatruar_union
Christopher: How did you become part of Pagan Federation International?
Sigurd: It’s a funny story. Some time ago, I had a pretty close contact with the magicians of the Western tradition in Russia. One day a girl friend of my friend decided to move to Amsterdam, to get higher education in music. I decided to visit her in Amsterdam, and I found it very interesting to see this famous city. By the time I arrived, Maya (the name of the girl) had met with Morgana, the international coordinator of the PFI. Knowing my active role in paganism, she decided to take me to one of pubmoots organized by Morgana.
It turned out for good reason. There I learned the story of Guidon, former national coordinator PFI (by the way he recently contacted me and now we work together). He almost completely disappeared for a while for personal reasons, and I was offered to take his place during his absence. However, when Guidon returned, he did not want to return to his post, but was prepared to cooperate actively.
Christopher: Have you had a chance to travel and meet with any of the other members?
Sigurd: Except Morgana and a few people I saw once on the same pubmoot, as well as several members in Russia, I have not meet with anyone.
Christopher: What are you trying to accomplish as National Coordinator?
Sigurd: The idea with the creation of a general Pagan Information Center collapsed, the Russian pagans are not ready, or is it just not necessary due to the nature of their thinking. For a long time, I helped to Wiccans to organize themselves and perform some routine work, along with thinking about how we can develop PFI in Russia. The appearance of Guidon was for me very useful, he has a lot of experience in organizing events of European pagans (same pubmoots, we have don’t even have such a term). He immediately suggested to me ideas about publishings and meetings. We can say that at the moment that I only coordinate activities, most of the activities are made by gradually appearing activists.
Christopher: Where can people learn more about Pagan Federation International and your part in Russia?
Sigurd: There is a Russian section of the PFI site, which is now beginning to be updated. There is also a group of VK http://vk.com/paganfederation_rus
Christopher: How did you learn to about the Tuva Shamanic Tradition? Isn’t it a bit unusual for them to be willing train an ethnic Russian in their traditions?
Sigurd: I faintly remember a time when I got my first drum. I Think it was 2007. At that time I had no idea for what I might need a drum, I liked the sound of it, I liked to meditate with it, I liked the essence of shamanism, which at that time I could not fully comprehend.
In early 2011, I met with Lyudmila Kara-Oolovna Oyun, hereditary Tuvan shaman. Then my friend and now colleague, organized her seminar in Moscow. From that moment my real journey through the world of spirits had started. In the summer of 2011, I first went to Tuva, where I received the blessing to work in the Tuvan tradition. and began my three-year training.
Now Tuvan shamanism is experiencing quite a sad time. Knowledge and power still remain, but they existed for a long time and gradually lost their value. The rituals have been simplified and some have disappeared. More shamans tend to be more interested in making money, then in developing spiritually, so don’t be surprised that they would want to conduct seminars and teach the basics of their craft.
Spirits of the land are still strong and powerful, but if they die, all there will become a lifeless desert.