An Apology


I feel i might have been a bit sloppy and angry when i was writing a post on certain tendensies within SOME US Asatru..

It was in a period when i was feeling more or less bombarded with strange sentiments, incorrect history and weird oppinions.
The post was meant to reflect on a certain video and and their ilk and not “mainstream” (in lack of a better term) US Heathenry but i can see how it came across like a general
elitist abrasiveness.
Placing a picture on there without making clear that this kindred was NOT implied in the critizism was downright stupid.
The picture was really meant to illustrate that some Heathens DO wear historical clothing, but NOT in a “LARPy” way.
Some do in Sweden too (besides, i have nothing against LARPs or re enactement. I have LARPed for years myself).
Since then i have written a post on some things about US Asatru that i like and admire (and that sometimes are missing here ).

Neither post, ofcourse, is “general”. Nobody could write a post on Heathenry or Heathens anywhere that covered all Kindreds or individuals.

It is merely my oppinions or observations and might be totally incorrect or unfair.

Heathenry ,being orthoprax, there are all kinds of oppinions, traditions and “flavors” of it.

Historically that would be the case too, with farms, villages or groups having the same basic traditions, but with variations suited to them (even looking at Iceland and Sweden is enough to see that there where some differences in how things where done. Heathenry has varied in praxis with region as well as  time ).

I should also repeat what i have alredy said, any complaints (whining) i have are not about any Heathen community in general, that is, it is not meant to mean the majority of Heathens anywhere (and neither would i prefer Heathenry to be identical everywhere. That would go against it´s nature)but certain tendensies that bugged me at the time.

I know several kindreds (Asatru and Anglo-Saxon) in the US that i respect and like a lot and who obviously does something that works very well.

I also know a whole bunch of nutcases in Scandinavia using Heathen symbolism but who would not get any sympathies from most Heathens anywhere.

I do however sometimes come across all from simple difference of oppinion (wich is as it should be) to people getting upset with me for thinking Fenris worship is unhistorical.

There was a period when my feeling was that “my” culture was up for grabs and could be presented anyway anyone pleased without anyone speaking up.

As if Scandinavian (and other Norse) history was a matter of personal agenda and taste.

This is fine in art but not if presented as history (for instance) .

As a matter of fact i was even told once (on the web) that me, being European (actually the term used was “white”), had no right to complain about anything and should “shut up”.

If anyone feels that my whining doesent fit them at all, it is probably because it doesent.

I have stated before that the majority of US Heathens are just that, Heathens that happen to live in the US.

There are regional differences in Heathenry even within (todays) Sweden and there always have been.

It is quite common to see “What is your Sed (custom)”, in writing here, indicating that differences are expected.

There are traditions within families or individual traditions too (as i suspect there are everywhere).

There ARE people wearing viking age clothes here too and there are also Blóts where the presiding/officiating Godi is wearing special garb.

I must say i feel stupid for posting pictures in a way that could be understood as if the people on them where the ones i whined about.

I have practiced thinking twice since i wrote this in an attempt to avoid lashing out at the wrong people.

I am really sorry for any offence!
I have taken down the post and hope frith will be restored.
Marcel

The Iluma, the Canaanite Pantheon – paganSquare


The Iluma, the Canaanite Pantheon – paganSquare.

Day 22 Rashu Yeni (month), Shanatu 84 (year)*
Many people aren’t as well acquainted with the Canaanite pantheon as with other pantheons. My guess is that this is because biblical lore and religions did a great job stamping out their polytheistic roots and succeeded better with Canaanite religion than for other ancient religions.

Medieval texts colour our knowledge about Odin


Researchers disagree on the Viking Age conceptions of the god Odin. The source material is ambiguous and difficult to interpret.

Odin with his two ravens, Hugin and Munin (Illustration from a 19th century document. The Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland)
Today, the general conception of Odin is that of the one-eyed chief of the Norse gods. However, when it comes to the general conception that was prevalent in the Viking age, researchers disagree.
Up until now, research history shows us that the method for understanding Odin has been wrong.
Annette Lassen says.
“Regarding medieval texts as a single, heathen text and extrapolating an image of Odin from this is not a viable option. The texts are very diverse,” she says.

According to Lassen, once the Christian way of thought has been identified, not much information is left about Odin in the old sources.

She says that while archaeologists and historians of religion may not necessarily agree with this, there is not likely to be anyone disagreeing that it is necessary to analyse the Christian additions, before starting to look into the original Viking Age conception of Odin.

“My aim with the book was to focus on the Medieval Odin figure, clarify the extent to which Christianity has shaped our ideas of heathenism and demonstrate that this calls for circumspection, but also to come up with a method that other researchers can use,” she says.

“Basing a thesis about the pre-Christian Odin on a series of elements from medieval texts about Odin presupposes an interest in whether those elements come from Christian ideas.

By: Irene Berg Sørensen

ScienceNordic

Whole Article: http://sciencenordic.com/medieval-texts-colour-our-knowledge-about-odin

Forn Sed – The Fennoscandic Perspective


Perhaps one thing i can observe in Scandinavian Forn Sed (exept for the temporal, non emphasis on the “Viking Age”) is a perspective that is more Fennoscandic.

There are discussions on wether the Sámi influenced the magic known as “Sidr” or not and i get the feeling that people outside of Scandinavia might see the different linguistic and ethnic groups as more historically “distinct” than they are.

They are different linguistic branches but they are also living next door.

During parts of our history (Sweden was a “superpower” for a while) both Finland and Estonia where parts of  the Swedish empire.

To a Swede it is only natural that both Finnish and Sámi influences are very present in our language and culture since long back.

An area close to where i live is called “Finnveden” (“The Finn  Woods”) because it was inhabited by forrest Finns.

Linguistics

There are three major official languages in Sweden, the same as in Finland: Swedish,Finnish and Sámi.

There are loanwords between all three and in some cases loanwords have even come back to the original language.

One such case being the cityof Haparanda in Sweden, the name is a loan from the Finnish “Haapa Ranta” (“Aspen Beach”).

“Ranta” in turn is a loanword from the Swedish “Strand” (“Beach”).

So, from Swedish to Finnish and back to Swedish again.

Seite, Sidr and so on

When it comes to religion and cult practices one might draw conclusions from the likness of “Seidr” and the Sámi “Seite”.

Stabben: A siedi(worshiped stone) inBalsfjord.

Seite is a word from Sámi religion but is more a matter of a natural idol than a methodology or discipline. It is often a large rock, oddly shaped tree or other natural formation.

The symbol of goddessBeaivi, hypostasis of the Sunand breeder of mankind. It’s also the pattern for tradtional Sami ritual drums.

The Noaide (“Shaman” in lack of a better term) IS however using a Bodhran like drum and a singing voice (there  is a distinct Sámi way of singing called “Joik”) and i imagine contemporary practitioners of “neo seidr” see “utesittning” (“sitting out”) a bit in that fashion (Shamanic trance work).

Solveig Andersson, jojk “bjiejjie”

Some have speculated that Galdr may be influenced by Joik but the same has been done with Kulning / Kauking and that sounds very different and has a different vocal technique.

Kulning / Kauking (Sweden / Norway)

However, trying to produce some artificial “separateness” between the languages because they are not related (ignoring region as a factor) is simply denying connections that are there acording to any etymologist i have read.

The Sámi God Horagalles is often also called Tiermes.

Sami people worshipping Horagalles or Tiermes. Copper engraving by Bernard Picart from Cérémonies et coutumes religieuses de tous les peuples du monde(1723–43)
Horagalles is also called Thoragalles and have been called Thoron or quite simply Thor.
He is described as wielding a hammer (sometimes two), creating thunder and fighting the obstructing powers, protecting man. He often has a nail or piece of flint in his head (my own speculation draws paralells to the shard from Hrungnirs weapon left in Thors forehead).
“Horagalles” pretty much means Þórr Karl (Thor Man).
The fact that Sámi is an Ural language and Norse a Germanic one has no real bearing (nor any arguments for them being different cultures. They are still in the same region).
The Finnish “God of thunder” is called Perkele, probably connected to Perkunas. He too has a hammer is connected to oaks and so forth.
Now, Perkunas is Baltic, not Uralic.
The Sámi moon goddess is named “Mano”.
Who influenced whom, when,if and how is open to speculation but to pretend there are no likenesses is simply being obstinate.
In all fairness totally unrelated cultures, like the African Dahomey and Yoruba cultures also have a world pillar and an axe wielding “God of thunder” (Xangó / Changó) but there there is no regional closeness or etymological connections (obviously).
Indigenous
One must remember that the Sámi are indigenous to this region and where here before there even was a distinct Germanic culture or language.
It is perhaps (?) easy to think of the Sámi as some native nomads inhabiting some corner of Fennoscandia but in reality their traditional land took up (about) half of todays Sweden and Norway and Norse people would have been in frequent contact with them.

The area traditionally inhabited by the Sami people.

Sweden in the 12th century before the incorporation of Finlandduring the 13th century.

  Geats
  Swedes
  Gutes
They would have been in southern Norway already ca.8300 BC – 7300 BC as the Fosna/Hensbacka cultures.
Archeology shows that people reached Utjoki in Finnish Lapland around  8100 BC.
The Germanic culture didnt come into being until around 1800 BC.

Map of the Nordic Bronze Age culture, around 1200 BCE

During the Iron Age and Viking Age there was heavy taxation on the Sámi by the Norse.
It is believed that a lot of Sámi where assimilated into Norse culture.
There are no proof of direct battles but there are folkloric sources naming the “Stalo”, interpreted by preacher Laestadius as Vikings, that where hostile.
Finns
There is research ongoing that might prove the first pre glacial, Neandethal finds in the Nordic countries.
Otherwise people of the Kunda and Swiderian cultures reached Finland as the ice withdrew ariound 9000 BCE and are believed to be the ancestors of the Finns and the Sámi.
Written history in Finland starts after a Swedish conquest. Iron Age is considered to have lasted 500 BC until c.1150 AD, by what time the Swedes where present.
There where Viking settlements in Finland and a lot of both commercial contact as well as plundering since pre Christian times.
There was Swedish rule in Finland through Birger Jarl since around 1249 (Second Swedish Crusade).
Wars with Finns are described in the Sagas and in legends (though “Finland” or “Finns” in this case could mean either what we call Sámi or Finns in this case).
“It happened one summer that King Agne went with his army to Finland, and landed and marauded. The Finland people gathered a large army, and proceeded to the strife under a chief called Froste. There was a great battle, in which King Agne gained the victory, and Froste fell there with a great many of his people. King Agne proceeded with armed hand through Finland, subdued it, and made enormous booty.”
Ynglinga Saga  (taking place in the 4:th century)
Norna Gests Thattr tells of Finnic Kvens and Curonians raiding in Sweden in the 8:th century.
Karelians are blamed for raiding and burning Sigtuna 1187 according to Erics Chronicle 1335.
According to Saxo and Snorri many heroes of Scandinavia had Finnic roots.
According to Egils Saga Norway had conflicts with the Kvens 873.
Divinities (Norse)
Völund (Wayland) is described as the son of a Finnic (Sámi) king in Völundskvida.

The hero Völundr the ‘ruler of the elves’ (vísi álfar), sometimes thought to bedwarves, nicknamed ‘dark elves’ (dökkálfar)
Hilda Ellis Davidson theorizes that Skadi may have had Sámi connections. She is a skier, archer and hunter and a cult in Hålogaland, northern Norway might have thrived because of this (a place where Norse and Sámi people would have lived in close proxemity) and that her split with Njördr might be symbolic of  a similar split between her cult and that of the Vanir.

Skade (1893) by Carl Fredrik von Saltza
Conclusion
All i am really trying to say is that this separateness of the Norse people that seems to be a picture held by some  outside of Scandinavia is usually not the one held by Scandinavians or Nordic people, neither is it shared by scholars.
The Norse people, as far as evidence goes, seems to have been anything BUT separate, especially from those neighbouring them, they where influenced  in both language, clothing, religion, jewlery and a number of other things.
I dont speak for other Nordic or Swedish people but i would be surprised if i cold find even one Swede with an interest in history that could imagine Swedish pre history/history separate from that of Finland and Sápmi.
That naturally spills over in Forn Sed too…..it being “Forn” and all.
(Finnish, Sámi or other historians / archeologists / anthropologists, feel free to correct anything incorrect here. Especially Stone Age pre history is not my forte).

Eddic Poetry (Voluspa recited in English by heart)


In September 2009 during Symbel at Midwest Thing in Minnesota, Mark Stinson of Jotun’s Bane Kindred recited the Eddic Poem, the Voluspa from memory in fulfillment of an oath. Our ancestors had an oral story-telling tradition, and it is something worth reviving… The music in the video was used with permission from Kari Tauring…please visit http://www.karitauring.com and purchase an album of her beautiful music. A big thanks to Jason Grothe for shooting the video, and to my kindred for their encouragement.

You officially impressed my butt off again Mr Stinson.

Mark Ludwig Stinson is an author, craftsman, father and chieftain of the Jotuns Bane Kindred, Kansas.

http://heathengods.com/temple/modules/tinycontent/?id=2

Some GOOD Things About US Asatru


Since i have aired my frustration sometimes, and perhaps (unintentionally) in a way that might seem like i´m targeting whole groups rather than certain tendencies (some of them “fringe” but that might have bigger consequences in the long term) it feels only fair that i also open my mouth about some pros.

There are whole groups as well as very learned individuals within heathenry everywhere outside of Scandinavia and some basic things we do will be the same or similar,others might differ, and in my view that is how it should be.

Even in the public cult, Norse customs where more “related” than “the same”.

Cult practices differed some. Things where not identical but certain cult practices or customs where of a similar nature rather than the “same” in every detail.

Among the Sviar (Swedes) the king was part of the cult, in Iceland they had a republic from the get go with a cult reflecting this for an example.

Some good stuff

“Lightning Across The Plains”. http://heathenfolk.blogspot.se/ From the blog “Kansas City Heathen”

 

  • American heathenry seem to congregate more and often form in “kindreds”. These are not only a support system but also a place for a number of social activities, learning and everything else that comes from getting together.The Havamal says that “Men delights in the company of men” or in short, mankind has a place to grow in eachothers company.

Chieftain Mark Ludwig Stinson, kids and adults from the Jotuns Bane Kindred

  • Scandinavians might be surrounded by Norse history and artifacs and their culture might be a direct extension from things of both pre Christian, and later nature. But familiarity breeds contempt. As they say, you dont miss something until it´s gone. It is very easy to get blind to the things right in front of you.
  • For the same reasons, a person outside of Scandinavia will have to actually look for information. They cant just relax and pretend to know simply by virtue of being born in a certain place. With some non Scandinavian heathens i get the feeling they really hit the books. You value something more if you worked for it than if you got it for free it is said.
  • Without being naive, freedom of speech and religous freedom are traditions that are at the core of what built the US. Despite right wing wingnuts it is a good place to be of a different religion (some Euopean countries only recently got religous freedom, though nobody would enforce the law ).
  • Heathens outside of Scandinavia have often managed to adapt the customs to their circumstances, mindsets and time in a way that seems to work for them. I have seen kindreds and individuals all over the world that are both impressive and very interesting. Related but distinct so to say.

Heathen Freehold Society of BC conducting a baby naming ritual at Midsummer.
In short, i might speakout at historical inaccuracies or give my own opinions on things. But i do like the fact that heathenry has, and always had, different faces.
Every country and region has its own history, ancestors, tastes and circumstances and heathenry, being orthoprax in nature, has room enough for that. As a matter of fact i would say it thrives on that. We connect with our ancestors and the vaettir of our homes. If that produced identical results something would be strange. Heathenry is supposed to offer strength, not get in the way and every group has its örlög and there is more than one way to flog a horse.
Til ars ok frithar!