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loki

Our Religion...

I had read something in someone else's journal, where they spoke of our religion as a warrior religion... and well, while I certainly won't deny that yes, that the warrior has it's role to play, we are not solely a warrior religion. Frankly, it is more apt to say we are an agricultural religion, or earth-based religion than a warrior religion. I feel this is something that gets lost alot both within Heathenry, and confused without... and so I took time to make a response.


Ours is not a warrior religion, and unfortunately that's what get's hyped the most. Ours is an AGRICULTURAL religion. All of our rites and holy days coincide with specific events related to having food to survive. Yes we honored the ancestors, and we spent time to honor those who died in good service to their community. Women who died in childbirth were JUST as highly honored as men who died in battle in some communities. A poet or skald could be just as honored as any warrior, etc.

Warrior aspects found within our religion were all focused on protecting your family, and your community. The comitatus is simply how some men served the larger community, by being available to fend off wild beasts, brigands, and those who might raid or "vike" against their community. But a man's worth was determined by 1) his contributions to the community (which could but did not HAVE to include fighting/defense) 2) his ability to speak extemporarily over the horn in honor to his Gods, and his kin, etc. 3) being trothful and frithful in actions & deeds.

I think things get confused when so many describe the ancient Heathen peoples as "Vikings." In truth there is no name for those ancient Heathens, at least insofar as describing them in religious terms. They were simply called whatever their particular community was called, and part of the community identity INCLUDED worship in the Northern European Gods.

The term "VIKING" specifically refers to those who raided, and pillaged. Well over 90% of those ancient Heathens would not be considered Vikings in this sense. In fact, they had just as much to fear from the Vikings as other non-Heathen communities did, and when their community was threatened, they would fight the Vikings too. Unfortunately, because the height of this civilization occured during the Viking Age, and most academic writings about this period of time for a very long time focused primarily on the Vikings, this has become skewed and confused. One needs to remember that this religion existed for several millenia BEFORE the Vikings ever entered the picture. Of course it doesn't help matters that most scholars, and even modern-day Heathens refer to all the peoples of this time under the umbrella term of "Viking" when they were certainly not the raiders to which that name should apply.

And in the annuls of history, what's more interesting to write about: battle, or the harvest being planted? Obviously, the former... and as such it's no wonder that most of what lore that was penned by Christian scholars after the conversion of Heathen Europe, focuses either on war and battle, magic or humor. Why write about those events that folks who lived and depended so on the land for survival already knew about as part of their normal routine? Thus the lore becomes the realm of the extraordinary, and not the best source of the ordinary daily doings of the culture it represents.

The leader has a sacred committment to protect his people, this is done through ensuring there is food, making sure the crops are planted, food is harvested, ensuring that offerings have been gifted to the Gods & the ancestors, making sure the local vaettir are appeased and the unfriendly ones are kept at bay. The leader saw to the health and wealth of his people, striking up trade, fosterings and the plying of diplomacy. Taking up arms and leading men into battle was only part of his function, and usually was the least seldom applied of all of the roles the leader oversaw.

Odin may be a God of warriors, but he's also a God of poets too. Both the word and the sword were equally important, and it is erroneous to focus on the one more than the other, as it skews the original culture of ancient Heathenry.

Comments

Odin may be a God of warriors, but he's also a God of poets too.

ITA... ITA. We all fit in there somewhere, there is a balance to be had. It will swing around a bit until we as a community start coming into that centered, steady sort of ground.

I'm so glad there is so much inspiration there in so many ways for so many different people. :-D
I was watching Dark Kingdom, it's a 2 part miniseries about the Nibelung's Ring story with Siegfried and Brunhild. I kept being annoyed... as all the warriors were yearning for Valhalla, and saying that is where they'd go when they died. Um hello, Freyja gets half the battle-slain, and first pick at that. She's probably picking the creme of the crop... and her battle slain, don't go to Valhalla. I then realized... my beef wasn't JUST with Dark Kingdom, but also with Heathenry today, as this "concept" is continually perpetuated, and it ties into the meat of this post as well.

I mean if you think of it Freya too is both a Goddess of Warriors, and a Goddess of Poets.



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