Archive for March, 2009

Quick Note

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2009 by Harmony041297

Hey all, just a quick note. I have been looking through the Viking Answer Lady’s website, a great Q&A resource, and her cafepress shop is awesome as well. Check out her wares: http://www.cafepress.com/v_a_l

Fundamentalist Heathenism: Putting the “mental” back into Fundamental

Posted in Heathenism on March 9, 2009 by Harmony041297
1men·tal
Pronunciation:
\ˈmen-təl\
Function:
adjective
Etymology:
Middle English, from Late Latin mentalis, from Latin ment-, mens mind — more at mind
Date:
15th century
1 a: of or relating to the mind ; specifically : of or relating to the total emotional and intellectual response of an individual to external reality <mental health> b: of or relating to intellectual as contrasted with emotional activity c: of, relating to, or being intellectual as contrasted with overt physical activity d: occurring or experienced in the mind : inner <mental anguish> e: relating to the mind, its activity, or its products as an object of study : ideological f: relating to spirit or idea as opposed to matter2 a (1): of, relating to, or affected by a psychiatric disorder <a mental patient> (2): mentally disordered : mad , crazy b: intended for the care or treatment of persons affected by psychiatric disorders <mental hospitals>3: of or relating to telepathic or mind-reading powers
“Mental” has become a dirty word, many in America associate it with the second definition as listed by the Merriam Webster dictionary, ie “mad” or “crazy”. However the bulk of the definitions relate to one’s intellectual prowess and ability, something I have been seeing a disturbing deficiency of as of late amongst the online Pagan communities I haunt.
This observed disparity has inspired me to write a little about what I like to call Fundamentalist Heathenism, or Radical Heathenism. It is sad that logic, fact-finding and research should be in any way considered “radical” or “fundamentalist”, but such is the world we live in. Consider this a small manifesto for such a Radical Heathen movement, a statement of purpose and definition of allies and enemies.
RADICAL HEATHENISM: A MANIFESTO
Who, you may ask, is a Radical Heathen, how would one know if one were such a fellow? The answer to this is simple, if you read this manifesto, and agree with more than you take issue with, and if you dedicate yourself to understanding to the best of your ability what the Pre-Kristjan Teutonic tribal folkway consisted of, and how this may be translated into modern times, then you are a Radical Heathen. If you deny the validity of Kirstjanity in your theo(a)logy and excise it’s cancerous presence from your spirit and mind, then you are a Radical Heathen.
Radical Heathens are not regimented further than this. Apply the above principles and we welcome you into our fellowship
Radical Heathens are not racist, we are Tribal. We believe that returning the tribal consciousness of our antecedents is paramount, yet we do not anyone based on ethnic background, race or color. As long as they excise all other cultural infiltrations and devote themselves to the reconstruction of Teutonic beliefs, they are kinsfolk and are welcome. Radical Heathenism is not pluralistic nor is it multi-cultural beyond the largely homogenous cultures of the Teutons and Northern Gaels (ie Scotland, Switzerland, Northern Alps etc.). 
Radical Heathenism recognizes Hearth and Home as the central unit of the faith, and family, folk, and clan are of highest import. Blood is thicker than water and one’s family should always be protected. 

We who shall from henceforth be called Radical Heathens vehemently deny the validity or relevance of Kristjanity, it’s memes or dogmas, it’s doctrines and catechisms. We accuse, formally and forthwithe this “Body of Christ” of gross crimes against humanity and nature. Due to this construct’s domination, whole cultures have been destroyed, ecosystems vanished, and women enslaved to patriarchy. Thus we mimic the Icelandic Heathens in labeling their “Lamb of God” the Hvitakristr – The White (cowardly) Christ. This diety and his followers are our enemies and can expect no quarter intellectually or spiritually from Radical Heathens.

There is only one exception to be discerned by each individual based on their precise situation. If one’s family is of the Kristjan faith, it is up to the Radical herself to determine the level of contact necessary to uphold the previous exhortation. None shall judge a Radical Heathen who declares said Kristjan relations Nidhingardhr (banished) and refuses contact with them. However it would be better for the cause should some contact be maintained, as a family member of Radical Heathen bent would be a great educational resource to the devotees of the Hvitakristr.
Radical Heathens should pursue social ministry as prison chaplains, soup-kitchen volunteers and participate in all manners of charity works. These activities serve two purposes. First and foremost it is viewed as an offering to the Shining Ones, and an act of goodfaith to the larger society. Secondly these practices shall ingratiate the Radicals to society, thus opening their minds to our cause.
Radical Heathens should be activists in whatever manner they are capable of. They should battle ignorance wherever they find it, by writing letters to the papers, senators and other politicians, by rallying for equal rights, and by extoling the virtue of scholarship to the Pagan society as a whole.
Radical Heathens champion Truth as one of it’s Noble Virtues. In a world gone mad with subjective reasoning, the Radical Heathen must defend Truth and Non-Truth as it pertains to scholarly pursuits and religo-majikal dogmas. There are right ways and wrong ways to adress the Gods, and the Radical Heathen must be an eternal student, constantly seeking to ascertain the correct way.
Radical Heathenism is a “mutual admiration society”, and no commands are made that each and every Radical agree with and feel kindly toward another. It is expected that debate and conflict will arise amongst a group of intellectuals, and this is not to be despised, yet rather lauded, so long as these debates are perpetuated with Honor and Eloquence. No Radical Heathen will assassinate another’s character in a public forum, should two Radicals disagree, they can debate the matter via private communiques. If an agreement cannot be reached, the disagree parties must come to a truce, and cease to communicate if necessary for Frith.
Radical Heathens aspire to be known everything there is to know about everything, understanding that this is a herculean task and ultimately impossible. However if Radicals set the sights high, they will overachieve despite their failure.
A Radical Heathen’s understanding should not be limited merely to mythology, but should also continually expand to encompass knowledge of Pre-Kristjan society, music, war, sailing, and any other subject of interest to our ancestors. Not every Radical will be an expert in each of these fields, but they should all be an expert, or at least studying to be so, in at least one.
Much has been made of the “warrior ethos” of the Norseman, and Radical Heathens recognize this as one but certainly not the only emanation of the Teutonic spirit. This said, however, Radical Heathens should know how to fight. Refusing a fight or allowing oneself to be beaten without resistance is cowardly and white-livered. Radical Heathenism in no way encourages senseless violence or criminal activity, but each claiming the title of “Radical” should be ready and equipped to fight. Thus Radical Heathens are encouraged to engage in martial arts, boxing, or weapons training of some sort. This not only trains the body to react in a confrontation (thus preserving your Honor) but also engenders a mystical mind-body connection that is sadly and sorely missed in American culture.
Radical Heathens who wish to gather together should do so democratically with a leader chosen from the most knowledgeable of candidates. This leader should embody Radical Heathenry by living according to the Virtues, by devotion to the Lore and faith in the Gods. 
Some may ask, what of those handicapped or otherwise unable to fulfill the dedication to the Virtue of “Strength”? I answer and say that one bound to a wheelchair is not necessarily less strong. Radical Heathenism recognizes strength of mind, of heart and of conviction. A true warrior embodies these as well as strength of arm. No one unable to engage in vigorous exercise and martial activities due to physical restrictions will be denied acceptance into Radical Heathenism. However those who are bodily capable of fulfilling these tasks and refuse will not be granted entry.
Radical Heathens seek in every moment to acend to the Nietchzean ideal of the Ubermensch, the Over-Man. Radical Heathens shall succeed in their outward appearance, whether they seek to be beautiful, straight-laced, punk or goth, they shall dress move and act in a superior manner. They shall not be slovenly in public and their actions should always represent that of a Radical Heathen.
Radical Heathenry does not regulate clothing styles or forms of expression, and accepts all sorts, from business women to goths, however Radical Heathenism does expect it’s members to be the best at what they do and how they dress. This extends into demeanor and how one carries oneself in public. Radical Heathens should at all times emanate the Virtues they live by, and should be informed by them. There is no seperation between Spiritual and Mundane. Every action is majik, causing change by force of will.
More to come on these concepts. Please contact me at bjorn_odinsson@yahoo.com for more information. A Kindred shall be forming soon in Colorado Springs. If you live in the Springs, contact me for details.

What is Heathenism III

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2009 by Harmony041297

In the previous two postings of What is Heathenism I spent a lot of time on the Gods. Mentioned in those posts were the Wights and Giants, and in this post I would like to examine in more detail just what these entities are.

Wight (usually prn. Vite) is an Anglo word for spirit. It is a derivitave of the Old Norse word “vaettir”. The ancient polytheistic Teutons were animist, believing that every material thing had a spirit that ruled it. So there were wights of the forest, rivers, stones and sea. Swords and other weapons were named and believed to be sentient and animals were considered to omens or Gods incarnate.

The Vikings of Scandinavia were well known for their fearsome dragon ships with carven monstrous heads upon the prows. The purpose for these was two-fold, both frightening humans and wights. The Viking thought process when invading a land was to first terrify the local land spirits so the animating force of sovereignty would be banished, then conquer the people of that land. From many written accounts, the Vikings would remove the dragon heads from the ships when approaching their own countries so as not to frighten their own wights.

The wights are similar to the Sidhe of the Celtic tradition, as they are considered numinous folk that can be beneficial or bring bad luck depending on how they were treated. Naturally timid, these beings were propiated by offerings of milk, honey, mead and bread. 

In the ancient ways, the Gods were rarely dealt with by normal humans, this was reserved for heroes and sorcerers. A common Norse proverb says “It is better for man if the Gods are unaware of them.”. The average farmer or thrall (third-class citizen, more to come on the class system later) had recourse to his or her ancestors, the Alfar and Disir, and the landvaettir.

 

ANCESTORS: To truly understand Heathenism, something must be said about it’s views on family. Heathenism was and is an Ancestral Religion. It was believed that the soul often dwelled in their barrow or burial mound, and required food and drink just as any living family member would. The ancestors live in the memory of them, and to forget one’s forebears was to banish them to oblivion. It has been posited that many of the Aesir and Vanir were originally ancient human heroes that were diefied and their deeds turned to myth. This is possible as it was believed that humans were the descendants of many of their Gods. In Sweden mythological pedigree is traced back to Ingvi Freyr, and his grave site can be found there. Germans claim Odinic heritage and Holland means literally “Holle’s Land”, Frau Holle being the Dutch equivalent to Hella, Goddess of the Dead.

    Ancestry was essential in the Norse understanding of rebirth as well. It was believed that the soul was reborn through the family line, thus one in the current incarnation could have been their great-grandfather before. This belief engendered a deep tribal consciousness that extends even to this modern age.

     Ancestors were powerful spirit helpers who could grant divine protection, give wisdom and understanding, and keep the frith in the household.

 

ALFAR: The alfar have two functions. Alfar translates into “elf”, and while little hard and fast evidence can be found as to their original function, the Eddas tell us that these beings are great smiths, forging majikal weapons and talismans. Freya’s Brisingamen was forged by the Alfar, as was Odhinn’s spear and the cursed Ring of the Niebelungs. The Alfar are also referred to as dwarves, but should not be confused with our modern folkloric belief of short folk who live in caves. This, rather, would be the function and habitation of the Swartalfar – the Dark Elves.

    Another reality of the Alfar is the diefied male ancestor. Somewhat like the Catholic belief that some human souls go to heaven to become Angels, so the Teutons seem to believe that certain heroic male ancestors went to Alfheim to serve in the Alfar retinue. 

    The Alfar are referenced in the Sigdrifumal where Brunhild is teaching Siegfried the majiks he will need as a hero. In this saga she tells him to cut runes upon a pregnant woman’s hand when she is in labor and invoke the Alfar for aid. This suggests a link between leechcraft or healing majik and the Alfar. 

 

DISIR: The Disir, or Matronae, are a fascinating set of demi-goddesses. It has been suggested that the Disir are female ancestors, similar in fuction to the Alfar. Warriors seemed to have specifically devoted themselves to the Disir, as many archeological finds show inscriptions to them, asking for protection in battle and for their families back home. It is not known if this cult developed in the Norse Lands organically, or if was taken from the Celtic culture of the Gauls. There are some fascinating parallels between the Disir cult and the Gaulish Matronae cult.

    Freya was called Vana-Dis (Dis being singular) and was considered to be the queen of the Disir. The Disir seemed to have been simultaneously ancestresses and divine beings. Often pictured in threes, these divinities protect hearth and home as well as warriors in battle.

 

LANDVAETTIR: While the above mentioned wights were concerned with human affairs, the Landvaettir seem to be concerned with nature. They were the ones who give food it’s life-sustaining essence, made the grass grow and the rivers fresh. The Landvaettir were essential to the sustenance of the tribe, and were thus very important in daily life. Offerings were left on the doorstep and in the fields. Sacrifices were thrown into the bogs and jewelry into the rivers. Little of detail is known about the specifics, but we know that these spirits were important in daily life.

 

TROLLS: Many of us have a pre-made image in mind when someone mentions “troll”, it is either inspired by the bejewelled buddha-belly dolls or by the “Billy Goats Gruff”. The latter is more true-to-form, as this folktale originates from the Heathen tradition.

    Trolls were not relegated to bridges only, however. They were also associated with caves, deep dark forests, and mountains. Trolls were monstrous beasts, known for their nefarious majik and ability to shapeshift.  They were not created by the Gods, but rather spawned from the sweat of the Father of Giants, Ymir. They hate humanity and wreak havoc in the lives of homesteaders living too near the untamed wilderness. The Runattal tells of a spell that Odhinn knows that, should he see trolls flying about in the night, he can utter a charm that will confuse their senses so they lose their shape. 

    Before the advent of Christianity, Trolls were the feared villains of bedtime stories. Witches took their place, and many attributes normally associated with “witches” were originally the function of Trolls. Trolls kidnapped children, stole babies’ breath while sleeping (SIDS perhaps?) ate humans, cursed crops and cattle, set fire to longhouses etc.

    There is some evidence that cults to Trolls existed, even continuing practice into the mid seventeen-hundreds.

 

Well, that’s all for now, I will continue on another post. Until then, frith, might and worth!

 

Bjorn Odinsson