Clearing Up Misconceptions that New Heathens May Have


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

http://www.heathengods.com/

(Source: facebook.com)

(Some) Asatru U.S style


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).

Eplagarðr Kindred. Some Heathens dress in Norse garb at special occations, others dont (and sometimes its a matter of practicality rather than choice)

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.

Swedish Heathens performing Disa Blot at a boulder.

Dont believe me? Ask a viking. They loved to mix their culture with others.

Småland [Province of Smolandia],Sweden


Map
The provinces of Sweden withSmåland highlighted
Coat of Arms
Land Götaland
Maincorresponding county Kronoberg County
Kalmar County
Jönköping County
Indigenous dialect(s) Småländska
Population 720,358[1]
Area 29,400 km²
Flower Twinflower
Animal Otter

 Småland  is a historical province (landskap) in southern Sweden. Småland borders BlekingeScania or Skåne,HallandVästergötlandÖstergötland and the island Öland in the Baltic Sea. The name Småland literally means Small Lands. The latinized form Smolandia has been used in other languages. The highest summit in Småland is Tomtabackenwith its 377 m.

Historical cities

Towns with former city status were: Eksjö (chartered around 1400), Gränna (1652), Huskvarna (1911), Jönköping (1284), Kalmar (approximately 1100), Ljungby (1936), Nybro (1932), Nässjö (1914), Oskarshamn (1856), Sävsjö (1947), Tranås (1919), Vetlanda (1920), Vimmerby(approximately 1400), Värnamo (1920), Västervik (approximately 1200), Växjö (1342)

History

The area was probably populated in the Stone Age from the south, by people moving along the coast up to Kalmar. Småland was populated by Stone Age peoples by at least 6000 BC, since the Alby People are known to have crossed the ice bridge across the Kalmar Strait at that time.

Migration period, Smolandian tumulus (grave mound)

The name Småland (“small lands”) comes from the fact that it was a combination of several independent lands, Kinda (today a part of Östergötland), Tveta, Vista, Vedbo, Tjust, Sevede, Aspeland, Handbörd, MöreVärendFinnveden and Njudung. Every small land had its own law in the Viking age and early middle age and could declare themselves neutral in wars Sweden was involved in, at least if the King had no army present at the parliamentary debate. Around 1350, under the king Magnus Eriksson a national law was introduced in Sweden, and the historic provinces lost much of their old independence.

The city of Kalmar is one of the oldest cities of Sweden, and was in the medieval age the southernmost and the third largest city in Sweden, when it was a center for export of iron, which, in many cases, was handled by German merchants.

Nils Dacke.18th century painting

Småland was the center of several peasant rebellions, the most successful of which was Dackefejden led by Nils Dacke in 1542–1543. When officials of king Gustav Vasa were assaulted and murdered, the king sent small expeditions to pacify the area, but all failed. Dacke was in reality the ruler of large parts of Småland during the winter, though heavily troubled by a blockade of supplies, before finally being defeated by larger forces attacking from both Västergötland and Östergötland. Dacke held a famous battle defence at the (now ruined)Kronoberg Castle, and was shot while trying to escape to then Danish-ruled Blekinge.

Traditional Windsor chairs perhaps made in Småland

In the 19th century, Småland was characterized by poverty, and had a substantial emigration to North America, which additionally hampered its development. The majority of emigrants ended up in Minnesota, with a geography resembling Sweden, combining arable land with forest and lakes.

Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullman from the film "The Emigrants" (novel by V.Moberg)

File:Skurugata.jpg
An image from a canyon in the forested Småland.

Religion

In comparison with much of Sweden, Småland has a higher level of religious intensity and church participation (Lutheran).

Smalandians

In the 20th century, Småland has been known for its high level of entrepreneurship and low unemployment, especially in the Gnosjöregion. Some suggest the harsh conditions have throughout history forced the inhabitants of the region to be cunning, inventive and cooperative.

This is how the old Swedish encyclopedia Nordisk familjebok described the people:

the Smalandian is by nature awake and smart, diligent and hard-working, yet compliant, cunning and crafty, which gives him the advantage of being able to move through life with little means. 
A running joke, or stereotype, in Sweden, is that of the Smalandian being very economical, or even cheap. Ingvar Kamprad said that the Smalandian are seen as the Scotsmen of Sweden.

Language

The local language is a Swedish dialect known as Småländska (Smalandian). This may in turn be separated in two main branches, with the northern related to the Götaland dialects and the southern to the Scanian dialects.

Heraldry

The first coat of arms for Småland, granted in 1560 pictured a red crossbow with roses on a golden shield but at the coronation ofJohan III in 1569 a new coat of arms was granted. A lion was wielding the crossbow and the roses had fallen off. There was also a revision in 1944, but no alterations were made. Småland is also considered a duchy and has the right to carry a ducal coronet with the arms.

Blazon: “Or a lion rampant Gules langued and armed Azure holding in front paws a Crossbow of the second bowed and stringed Sable with a bolt Argent.”


Havamal


 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. [edit]Contents [edit]Gestaþáttr 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 hallNumber 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 diethe self must also die;I know one thingwhich never dies:the reputation of each dead man.[4][edit]On women Billingr’s girl watches on while Odin encounters the bitch tied to her bedpost (1895) by Lorenz Frølich. Stanzas 84 to 110 deal with the general topic of romantic love and the character of women. 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). [edit]Loddfáfnismál 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”). [edit]Rúnatal “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.[5]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 anetr 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 treenine long nights,wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,myself to myself,on that tree of which no man knowsfrom 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. [edit]Ljóðatal 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. [edit]Germanic Neopaganism 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.[citation needed] 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.” Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, leader of the Icelandic Ásatrúarfélagið, published his performance of a number of Eddaic poems, including the Hávamál, chanted in rímur style.

 

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,

  1. the Gestaþáttr, or Hávamál proper, (stanzas 1-80), a collection of proverbs and gnomic wisdom
  2. 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)
  3. the Loddfáfnismál (stanzas 111-138), a collection of gnomic verses similar to the Gestaþáttr, addressed to a certain Loddfáfnir
  4. the Rúnatal (stanzas 139-146), an account of how Odin won the runes, introductory to the Ljóðatal
  5. 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.

Contents

Gestaþáttr

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.

On women

Billingr’s girl watches on while Odin encounters the bitch tied to her bedpost (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.Stanzas 84 to 110 deal with the general topic of romantic love and the character of women.

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).

Loddfáfnismál

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”).

Rúnatal

“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 SongRúnatáls-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.

Ljóðatal

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.

Germanic Neopaganism

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.[citation needed] 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.”

Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, leader of the Icelandic Ásatrúarfélagið, published his performance of a number of Eddaic poems, including the Hávamál, chanted in rímur style.

 

Religion as a Christian concept


 Religion as a Christian concept The social constructionists In recent years, some academic writers have described religion according to the theory of social constructionism, which considers how ideas and social phenomena develop in a social context. Among the main proponents of this theory of religion are Timothy Fitzgerald, Daniel Dubuisson and Talad Assad. The social constructionists argue that religion is a modern concept that developed from Christianity and was then applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures and European pre Christian cultures.

The social constructionists

In recent years, some academic writers have described religion according to the theory of social constructionism, which considers how ideas and social phenomena develop in a social context. Among the main proponents of this theory of religion are Timothy Fitzgerald, Daniel Dubuisson and Talad Assad. The social constructionists argue that religion is a modern concept that developed from Christianity and was then applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures and European pre Christian cultures.

Similar views to social constructionism have been put forward by writers who are not social constructionists. George Lindbeck, a Lutheran and a postliberal theologian, says that religion does not refer to belief in “God” or a transcendent Absolute, but rather to “a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought … it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.” Nicholas de Lange, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Cambridge University, says that “The comparative study of religions is an academic discipline which has been developed within Christian theology faculties, and it has a tendency to force widely differing phenomena into a kind of strait-jacket cut to a Christian pattern. The problem is not only that other ‘religions’ may have little or nothing to say about questions which are of burning importance for Christianity, but that they may not even see themselves as religions in precisely the same way in which Christianity sees itself as a religion.”

Similar views to social constructionism have been put forward by writers who are not social constructionists. George Lindbeck, a Lutheran and a postliberal theologian, says that religion does not refer to belief in “God” or a transcendent Absolute, but rather to “a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought … it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.” Nicholas de Lange, Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Cambridge University, says that “The comparative study of religions is an academic discipline which has been developed within Christian theology faculties, and it has a tendency to force widely differing phenomena into a kind of strait-jacket cut to a Christian pattern. The problem is not only that other ‘religions’ may have little or nothing to say about questions which are of burning importance for Christianity, but that they may not even see themselves as religions in precisely the same way in which Christianity sees itself as a religion.”