New Heathens almost always encounter other Heathens on-line first, prior to meeting actual Heathens face-to-face in real life. Based on the behavior of many of the Heathens you encounter on-line, it would be easy to falsely conclude that all heathens are angry, mean people who like to argue and belittle other people. One might mistakenly conclude that the biggest problem facing Heathenry are the “hoards and hoards of racist” people calling themselves Heathen. One might start to incorrectly believe that Heathernry can take place on the internet. One might falsely conclude that the Prose and Poetic Edda are basically the Heathen Bible. One might sadly conclude that there is only one-true-way within Heathenry, and we’re debating and working hard to develop and define that one-true-way.
As easy as it would be to come to these conclusions, all of these conclusions would be essentially false.
REAL HEATHENS ARE A GENEROUS AND HOSPITABLE PEOPLE
Our Heathen ancestors put great important on their own families and their own local communities. But they held generosity and hospitality as important strengths of a man’s character. A man who knew how to be a generous host, and how to treat his guests well, would earn himself great respect among his peers.
Modern Heathens focus on their families and their kindred, living in Frith and cooperation within their trusted Innangarth, or trusted inner circle. While focus closely on family, kindred, and friends, they also understand the importance of extending hospitality to heathens traveling through or visiting their local area or kindred.
A man’s reputation, or Gefrain, is based on his deeds, how much he accomplishes, his generosity, his hospitality, and his honor. There is nothing about Asatru or Heathenry that encourages meaningless anger or pointless confrontations. But,on-line Heathenry is rife with keyboard cowboys that seem to delight in tearing other people down, name-calling, and being as confrontational as possible. This says much more about the nature of the internet and the nature of these people, than it has to do with Heathenry itself.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF HEATHENS ARE PROUD OF THEIR ANCESTORS
Heathens are proud of their history, their culture, and their ancestors. We feel that we share a connection with our ancestors by blood, by culture, and by Orlog, a part of the Heathen soul that is passed from parent to child. This pride is a positive pride, and does not involve hatred for other cultures or a need to tear other cultures down in favor of our own.
Some mistake this positive pride as somehow being “racist.” You’ll find that most “Folkish” Heathens don’t even use the word “Race,” in reference to their beliefs…because pride in one’s ancestors is not about “Race.” This on-going “racist” debate and name-calling is decades old within Heathenry, and has gotten us no where. It is an enormous distraction from anything constructive and positive. It should be noted, that this “racist” debate, is almost exclusively something that takes place on-line. It is an internet phenomenon, and utterly pointless.
Racism is not specifically a Heathen problem. Racism is not the problem of any one particular group. There are Racists within every religion. Christian Racists. Muslim Racists. Jewish Racists. Hindu Racists. Even Wiccan Racists.
Jotun’s Bane Kindred has been to scores of face-to-face heathen gatherings. The topic of “Race” or “Racism” never comes up at these gatherings, and is a complete non-issue within real Heathenry. It is only on-line that self-appointed “crusaders,” harp on this topic constantly. In so doing, they give the issue more time and attention that it deserves. Listening to these proverbial “Chicken Littles” on-line, one would think that Racism was a major problem within Heathenry…and that the sky is falling. I doubt they realize it, but their constant feeding and attention of this non-issue, gives this non-existent internet bogey-man a life of its own.
Rather than running about telling people what we aren’t, we should be focusing our time on telling people who we are, and why. We should explain why we honor our ancestors, and how important they are to us. What few “racist” Heathens there are, cease to have any real impact when we ignore and shun them as a topic, and focus our time and energy on moving forward.
REAL HEATHENRY TAKES PLACE FACE-TO-FACE
Real Heathenry is about community, gathering as a people, shaking a man or woman’s hand, looking them in the eye, hearing their voice, telling stories, getting to know each other. Its letting your kids play together. Letting your spouses get to know each other. Its about laughing at dumb jokes, and telling stories from your life. Its about mingling Wyrd…and taking the measure of another person, and finding them of worth.
Real Heathenry is about actually DOING something. Reading, scholarship, communication, discussing various beliefs, and even debating approaches to our Folkway are important. But, we are our deeds. What have you done? What are you doing? What will you do?
Starting, growing, and maintaining kindreds is a way of bringing Heathenry home. You build close-knit bonds of Frith with other Heathens that then become part of your Innangarth, or trusted inner circle. Gathering with other Heathens and living in Frith with them, allows for collective Luck to be built, and for great things to be accomplished. Our children get to know and play with other Heathen children. And we establish Heathen communities that draw other members of our Folk home to their ancestral Folkway.
These things can only happen face-to-face. We should never mistake internet interactions and acquaintances as “real.” They are just pixels on a screen, and these pixels flicker out when the machine is unplugged.
THE POETIC EDDA AND PROSE EDDA ARE HISTORICAL TEXTS
The Poetic Edda and Prose Edda are both historical texts, written by men. Both texts were actually written down by Christian men. The Poetic Edda was an attempt by Christians to record in writing the old poetry of their oral storytelling culture. The Poetic Edda was written by Snori Sturleson in order to preserve enough knowledge about Norse mythology and the meanings of poetic kennings, to preserve the poetry forms of the North. Heathens understand that these books are not “the word” of our Gods.
We include the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda among our Lore, a collection of primary sources we look to for information about the religion, ways, and world-view of our ancestors. We also include among this Lore, the Icelandic Sagas, Beowulf, and other contemporary writings of the time. But none of these books are “scripture.”
But you will encounter Heathens that read the poetry recorded in the Poetic Edda as scripture. They will quote it, and interpret it as literal truth, without any critical thought as to how and when they were recorded, and by whom. They quote information in the Prose Edda, as if what Snori Sturleson wrote is exactly what all Heathens thorughout history believed of our Gods and Goddesses, and the Nine Worlds. Yes, information from both the Poetic and Prose Eddas is important and well worth considering. But both sources are the works of men, and not the works of our Gods.
Other religions have their Holy Books, which they proclaim are the direct “Word” of their god. But our Heathen ancestors did not have a written tradition, nor a holy book. And modern Heathens also do not have a holy book.
TRIBAL VARIANCES ARE ACKNOWLEDGED AND EXPECTED
The ways of our Ancestors varied greatly from tribe to tribe, location to location, century to century, and even among various levels of society. The same situation exists today within modern Heathenry. There was no “one-true-way” among our ancestors and there is no “one-true-way among modern Heathens. We live in different regions, we have different backgrounds and upbringings, we have different life experiences, different personalities, different interests, and different ways of interpreting things we read and learn.
One of the great strengths of grassroots, local kindred-based, tribal heathenry is the understanding among various tribes that they can have unity of purpose and work together, without having unified beliefs or practices.
But, you will encounter Asatruars and Heathens who feel they are right, and everyone else is dreadfully wrong. Heathens who believe that the goal of the Reconstruction of our ancestral Folkway, is to rediscover the “one-true-way” of our ancestors. These Asatruars and Heathens debate angrily over details, denigrating and insulting all those that do things differently than they do, and they seem completely oblivious to the fact that the never was “one-true-way” of Heathenry.
When you look at the behavior of these elitists who insist there was one-true-way, and that they specifically are the ones that have found it, and that everyone else is wrong…does it not feel eerily familiar of the desert faiths, with their one-true-way?
Our ancestors did not act in this way, and I’m always amazed when people who claim to be the most well-read and learned among us, act in a way that is so contrary to how our ancestors would have approached their own ancestral Folkway.
BEST WAY TO CLEAR UP MISCONCEPTIONS
The best way to clear up these internet-oriented misconceptions is to meet or gather with other heathens face-to-face. If there is a kindred or tribe within traveling distance of where you live, arranged to visit them or attend one of their meetings. If there is no kindred or tribe within traveling distance, do some research on Heathen Gatherings…and attend one. There is nothing like meeting with or gathering with other heathens, to give you better insight into the reality of Heathenry…rather than what lurks in the internet shadows.
Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun’s Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods
I cant help it, sometimes when i see Amercan Heathens i feel like i´m watching some bad Viking LARP.
That goes for all the talk of “Folk” and all the “hails” too.
I dont know any Swedish people that greet eachother with “Hail” or “Hielsa” (witch just sounds like misunderstood Swedish).
As a general rule you can hardly distinguish between Swedish Christians,Heathens and the secular majority (not to mention those that are kind of a mix of these…..witch in a sense is our entire culture).
I should make clear that:
1: I do NOT intend to insult anyone here, Heathen,Christian or other.
2: Neither will i deliberatly call all “Folkish” Heathens racists or all “Universalist” Heathens airhead neo pagans (Besides, we actually ARE neo pagans per defenition, EVEN if we are reconstructionists or grew up in a culture saturated with the folklore and extentions of cult and myth as i am).
3: And i do not think the fact that American Heathenry differs from Swedish (generalizing my ass off here) is in anyway “bad” or “wrong”. On the contrary i think its good. The custom SHOULD be adaptable to individuals, circumstances, places and communities. It always was. Even within what is today the nation of Sweden, Heathen cult and customs differed depending on when and where.
You organize in kindreds, we dont,Some of you use terms like “Thorsman”, i have never heard a Swede, even one focusing on Thor calling himself that or having an “patron God” attitude towards it (individuals and even whole areas in Scandinavia sometimes focus on certain mights as etymology shows, but it seems very de emphasized in actual cult, even today in most cases).
Non of this is what i´m talking about.
Its simply that when i watch an Asatru Kindred video where “the dangers of a monoculture” is discussed where one guy leads the meeting while another guy sits on a chair, doing his best “viking chieftain” with a girl with a logo T – shirt on each side of him, a model longship on a shelf above him and two drinking horns on a table……
…..it feels weird and a bit cult (in the modern use of the word, incorrect as it is) ,LARP ,survivalist…..”i wish i was part of something cool and had a special heritage”….alien, silly.
It also gives me a feeling of self indoctrination by pastor, evangelical style.
I have nothing against boat models or drinking horns and definetely not girls…..especially several of them and in combination with drinking horns (horny?), i guess i just wish fate (not faith), and a trust that our culture(s) are biological enteties that takes care of themself quite well with much less attitude, roleplay, pretend uniqueness and heritage would more of a base.
Mock history,science or hertage is a much bigger threat to culture than another culture ever was.
Dont believe me? Ask a viking. They loved to mix their culture with others.
My other blogs and Twitter:
Hermeticism, Theurgy, Thelema, Freemasonry, Heathenry, Golden Dawn, OTO, Ceremonial Magick, Kabbala, Enochian, Yoga, Paganism, Rosicrucianism, Esoterica, Alchemy, Voudoun, Santeria and more
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Yup, i´m whoring myself out!
The excavations in Uppåkra just south of Lund has been found the remains of the heathen temple that stood here for hundreds of years before its demise in the late 900s. Then the entire area of the building could be dug up and then the place is intact from the recent burial was in this way for the first time a heathen temple could be studied in its entirety by purely archaeological methods.
Remnants of the building itself consists of burying the poles and wooden walls that once existed on the site. Different floor layers have also been identified and it has also been able to establish that the temple over the centuries been subject to the necessary alterations. Materials have been around wood also been buried in the ground.
The building is not large, only 13 meters long and 6.5 meters wide. It has been slightly curved long walls of coarse, vertical oak planks, or “sticks”, which are buried in a trench in the earth at more than one meter deep. In every corner of the house has been a pole which was buried to considerable depth. The building’s middle section, which remained independent of outside walls, consisted of four huge timber posts. The holes for these are unusually wide and depth is very remarkable, more than two meters.
The building had three entrances, two in the south and one in the north. Each opening has been framed by heavy side poles and the South West has also had a prime lot. This input should have been the temple’s main entrance.
The wall trench and post holes found excavators a hundred so-called golden guys. These are thin, small gold plates engraved with human figures. Its size means that these gold plates can not have earned such as trading gold, but should have had with the then cult to do. That they found in a large amount of burial for Uppåkra temple pillars and wall planks suggest that you sacrificed those golden old men in connection with the construction of the temple.
The building’s exterior walls have been in the so-called rod construction between sharp corner poles. The technique is familiar from found remains of stave churches in Lund from about 1050thThe following planks must have been the top fitted in a horizontal block of wood, so-called safe-conduct, which has been on corner poles. The deep trench that rod walls were set in and the deep holes for corner poles show that the building’s exterior walls must have been high. The holes are of course the task to resist lateral loads to walls not crashed down. In Hemse church on Gotland have been found preserved wall pieces in full length of three meters from the early wooden church. A height of the temple’s outer walls of up to four meters above the ground is therefore not impossible.
The roof between the outer walls and the four corner posts that served as the supporting structure in mittornet should have been covered with wood shavings, which required a fairly steep roof. From a long wall to the tower wall, this should have risen about two feet. How high was the tower itself ? Two feet deep postholes indicate a very large structure, not least because the four pillars formed a square which enabled efficient bracing by check works. With a length of the posts on the suggestion of ten meters, the tower’s walls gone up more than three feet above the nave ridge.
The above interpretation, here called Foteviksmodellen, the temple published in 2004. Another interpretation was published in 2006, here called the Lund model. The latter has the choice not to see the four middle pole FREQUENCY different dimensions and huge foundation depth as a design for a tower. The outer walls have instead entered into a mighty height, nearly six feet.
Inside the Uppåkra temple has been found a bronze beaker and a glass bowl. The approximately 20 cm high cup is decorated with bands of thin gold plate with stamped images. Glass dish comes from the area north of the Black Sea. The bowl, which is made with two layers of glass mass, can be dated to around 500 AD.
Hávamál (“Sayings of the high one”) is presented as a single poem in the Poetic Edda, a collection of Old Norse poems from the Viking age. The poem, itself a combination of different poems, is largely gnomic, presenting advice for living, proper conduct and wisdom.
The verses are attributed to Odin, much like the biblical Book of Wisdom is attributed to Solomon. The implicit attribution to Odin facilitated the accretion of various mythological material also dealing with Odin.
For the most part composed in the metre Ljóðaháttr, a metre associated with wisdom verse, Hávamál is both practical and metaphysical in content. Following the gnomic “Hávamálproper” follows the Rúnatal, an account of how Odin won the runes, and the Ljóðatal, a list of magic chants or spells.
The Hávamál is edited in 165 stanzas by Bellows (1936). Other editions give 164 stanzas, combining Bellow’s stanzas 11 and 12, as the manuscript abbreviates the last two lines of stanzas 11. Some editors also combine Bellow’s stanzas 163 and 164. In the following, Bellow’s numeration is used.
The poems in Hávamál is traditionally taken to consist of at least five independent parts,
- the Gestaþáttr, or Hávamál proper, (stanzas 1-80), a collection of proverbs and gnomic wisdom
- a dissertation on the faithlessness of women (stanzas 81-95), prefacing an account of the love-story of Odin and the daughter of Billingr (stanzas 96-102) and the story of how Odin got the mead of poetry from the maidenGunnlöð (stanzas 103-110)
- the Loddfáfnismál (stanzas 111-138), a collection of gnomic verses similar to the Gestaþáttr, addressed to a certain Loddfáfnir
- the Rúnatal (stanzas 139-146), an account of how Odin won the runes, introductory to the Ljóðatal
- the Ljóðatal (stanzas 147-165), a collection of charms
Stanzas 6 and 27 are expanded beyond the standard four lines by an additional two lines of “commentary”. Bellow’s edition inverses the manuscript order of stanzas 39 and 40. Bellow’s stanza 138 (Ljóðalok) is taken from the very end of the poem in the manuscript, placed before the Rúnatal by most editors following Müllenhoff. Stanzas 65, 73-74, 79, 111, 133-134, 163 are defective.
Stanzas 81-84 are in Malahattr, 85-88 in Fornyrthislag. The entire section of 81-102 appears to be an ad hoc interpolation. Stanza 145 is also an interpolation in Malahattr.
The first section Gestaþáttr, the “guest’s section”. Stanzas 1 through 79 comprise a set of maxims for how to handle oneself when a guest and traveling, focusing particularly on manners and other behavioral relationships between hosts and guests and the sacred lore of reciprocity and hospitality to the Norse pagans.
The first stanza exemplifies the practical behavioral advice it offers:
- All the entrances, before you walk forward,
- you should look at,
- you should spy out;
- for you can’t know for certain where enemies are sitting,
- ahead in the hall
Number 77 is possibly the most known section of Gestaþáttr:
- Deyr fé,
- deyja frændr,
- deyr sjálfr et sama;
- ek veit einn,
- at aldri deyr:
- dómr of dauðan hvern.
- Cattle die,
- kinsmen die
- the self must also die;
- I know one thing
- which never dies:
- the reputation of each dead man.
It is introduced by a discussion of the faithlessness of women and advice for the seducing of them in stanzas 84-95, followed by two mythological accounts of Odin’s interaction with women also known as “Odin’s Examples” or “Odin’s Love Quests”. The first is an account of Odin’s thwarted attempt of possessing the daughter of Billing (stanzas 96-102), followed by the story of the mead of poetry which Odin won by seducing its guardian, the maiden Gunnlöð (stanzas 103-110).
The Loddfáfnismál (stanzas 111-138) is again gnomic, dealing with morals, ethics, correct action and codes of conduct. The section is directed to Loddfáfnir (“stray-singer”).
“Odin’s Self-sacrifice” (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.The younger Jelling stone (erected byHarald Bluetooth ca. 970) shows thecrucifixion of Christ with the victim suspended in the branches of a tree instead of on a cross.Rúnatal or Óðins Rune Song, Rúnatáls-þáttr-Óðins (stanzas 138-146) is a section of the Hávamál where Odin reveals the origins of the runes. In stanzas 138 and 139, Odin describes his sacrifice of himself to himself:
- Veit ec at ec hecc vindga meiði a
- netr allar nío,
- geiri vndaþr oc gefinn Oðni,
- sialfr sialfom mer,
- a þeim meiþi, er mangi veit, hvers hann af rótom renn.
- I know that I hung on a windy tree
- nine long nights,
- wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
- myself to myself,
- on that tree of which no man knows
- from where its roots run.
- Við hleifi mic seldo ne viþ hornigi,
- nysta ec niþr,
- nam ec vp rvnar,
- opandi nam,
- fell ec aptr þaðan.
- No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
- downwards I peered;
- I took up the runes, screaming I took them,
- then I fell back from there.
The “windy tree” from which the victim hangs is often identified with the world tree Yggdrasil by commentators. The entire scene, the sacrifice of a god to himself, the execution method by hanging the victim on a tree, and the wound inflicted on the victim by a spear, is often compared to the crucifixion of Christ as narrated in the gospels. The parallelism of Odin and Christ during the period of open co-existence of Christianity and Norse paganism in Scandinavia (the 9th to 12th centuries, corresponding with the assumed horizon of the poem’s composition) is also evident from other sources. To what extent this parallelism is an incidental similarity of the mode of human sacrifice offered to Odin and the crucifixion, and to what extent Christianity exerted direct influence on the mythology associated with Odin, is a complex question on which scholarly opinions vary.
The last section, the Ljóðatal enumerates eighteen charms (songs, ljóð), prefaced with
- Ljóð eg þau kann / er kann-at þjóðans kona / og mannskis mögur
- “The songs I know / that king’s wives know not / Nor men that are sons of men” (stanza 147).
The charms themselves are not given, just their application or effect described. They are explicitly counted from “the first” in stanza 147, and “a second” to “an eighteenth” in stanzas 148 to 165, given in roman numerals in the manuscript.
There is no explicit mention of runes or runic magic in the Ljóðatal excepting in the twelfth charm (stanza 158), which takes up the motif of Odin hanging on the tree and its association with runes,
- svo eg ríst / og í rúnum fá’g
- “So do I write / and color the runes”
Nevertheless, because of the Rúnatal preceding the list, the Ljóðatal has been associated with the runes, specifically with the sixteen letters of the Younger Futhark.
Müllenhoff takes the original Ljóðatal to have ended with stanza 161, with the final three charms (16th to 18th) taken as late and obscure additions.
The difference of sixteen runes of the Younger Futhark vs. eighteen charms in the Ljóðatal has notably motivated proponents of Germanic mysticism to expand the row by two extra runes. The best-known attempt to this effect are the Armanen runes by Guido von List (1902).
Various proponents of Germanic Neopagan groups place an emphasis on Hávamál as a source of a Norse pagan ethical code of conduct. The “Nine Noble Virtues”, first compiled byOdinic Rite founder John “Stubba” Yeowell in the 1970s are “loosely based” on the Hávamál. The Northvegr Foundation cites the Hávamál among other Old Norse and Old English sources to illustrate “the ethical ideal of the Northern spiritual faith of Heithni.”
The blót (Old Norse neuter) refers to Norse pagan sacrifice to the Norse gods and the spirits of the land. The sacrifice often took the form of a sacramental meal or feast. Related religious practices were performed by other Germanic peoples, such as the pagan Anglo-Saxons. The blót element of horse sacrifice is found throughout Indo-European traditions, including the Vedic Indian, Celtic, and Latin traditions.
The verb blóta meant “to worship with sacrifice”, or “to strengthen”. The sacrifice usually consisted of animals, in particular pigs and horses. The meat was boiled in large cooking pits with heated stones, either indoors or outdoors. The blood was considered to contain special powers and it was sprinkled on the statues of the gods, on the walls and on the participants themselves.
It was a sacred moment when the people gathered around the steaming cauldrons to have a meal together with the gods or the Elves. The drink that was passed around was blessed and sacred as well and it was passed from participant to participant. The drink was usually beer or mead but among the nobility it could be imported wine.
The old prayer was til árs ok friðar, “for a good year and frith (peace)” They asked for fertility, good health, a good life and peace and harmony between the people and the powers.
Modern adherents of the reconstructionist religions Theodism and Ásatrú continue to practice the ritual of blót, which is one of the most important ritual observances of their religion, in addition to symbel.
Symbel / Bragafull – Acknowledging ourselves and our acomplishments
In Christian thinking “boasting” is seen as something to be avoided, not so in pre Christian Norse culture.
Or i should correct myself, boasting in this case is not the empty claims and exagerations we normally associate with the word, but an acknowledging of our own acomplishments AND the help of the Gods and ancestors.
In other words a thanksgiving of sorts ,notice that there is no sacrifice in Symbel, since it is not a prayer for something but a thanks for what is allready given.
We acknowledge our own part in the acomplishment and thus strenghten ourselves.
The Gods are not doing everything for us since they´re not our servants. Gods and men co exist.
Thus WE have a place in the equation.
At the end of Symbel / Bragafull oaths are often taken, thus further empowering us. These vows are BINDING and taken very seriously.
Symbel involved a formulaic ritual which was more solemn and serious than mere drinking or celebration. The primary elements of symbel are drinking ale or mead from a drinking horn, speech making (which often included formulaic boasting and oaths), and gift giving. Eating and feasting were specifically excluded from symbel, and no alcohol was set aside for the gods or other deities in the form of a sacrifice.
Accounts of the symbel are preserved in the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf (lines 489-675 and 1491–1500), Dream of the Rood and Judith, Old Saxon Heliand, and the Old NorseLokasenna as well as other Eddic and Saga texts, such as in the Heimskringla account of the funeral ale held by King Sweyn, or in the Fagrskinna.
The bragarfull ”promise-cup” or bragafull ”best cup” or “chieftain’s cup” (compare Bragi) was in Norse culture a particular drinking from a cup or drinking horn on ceremonial occasions, often involving the swearing of oaths when the cup or horn was drunk by a chieftain or passed around and drunk by those assembled. The names are sometimes anglicized as bragarful and bragaful respectively.
That the name appears in two forms with two meanings makes it difficult to determine the literal meaning. The word bragr ’best, foremost’ is a source for its first element. The form bragafull (but not bragarfull) can also be interpreted as ‘Bragi’s cup’, referring to the Bragi, god of poetry, though no special connection to Bragi appears in any of the sources.