Trickster's Daughter (lokis_dottir) wrote,
Trickster's Daughter

Musings: The Dividing Line

Anyone who has been in the community for any reasonable length of time has become aware that undeniably there is a wide variety of opinion on nearly any topic within the community, even when people agree the details of how they might go about something can vary drastically. To me I see beauty in this. As a religion isn't a heartless law that dictates (at least it shouldn't be), but rather is a personal connection and the outward expression of what lies within someone's heart. Some people may use the word faith here where I used religion, as when they think of religion they see Organized religion with it's hierarchical structures and it's politics and not so much the individual connection between a person and their Gods..

It's probably why I ended up loving and achieving a Master of Arts in the Humanities; To describe that discipline in a nutshell, it's all about looking at life, and trying to understand more about something. In other words, the Humanities lives by Socrates' maxim, "the unexamined life is not worth living." But the Humanities understands that there are too many factors to every and the learn the truth about life, the universe, everything (aka 42 :P), but rather at best we can come closer to the truth, and if our scope is small enough come to some smaller truths which ripple back to the origination.

One of the bigger debates for a while now has been not only where does Loki fit in, but on a wider scale what do we make of the etins/jotuns?

Here is an excerpt of some of my rambling thoughts on the subject. Hey it's late, I'm medicated, and I'm not bothering to check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. .

Actually, I'd argue that the point of contention isn't are the Jotuns Deities, but rather are they considered (if I can bastardize from the Wizard of Oz) "are they a Good Witch, or a Bad Witch?" In other words if they're a Good Witch then They're Gods that help us Munchkins against the Wicked Witch of the West and her Flying Monkeys. But if they're a Bad Witch, then they aren't on our side and instead try to kill little girls and there dogs too.

Yes, we know that some Jotuns are definitely considered and honored among the Gods in Asgard. We also know that other Gods have Jotuns as ancestors. In some form or another, Jotuns are very much part of the family tree.

Considering that virtually without exception all of our "lore" was penned by Christian scholars after the time of conversion, *AND* it was customary of European literature of the time so penned to reference the ancient Greek & Romans, I suspect that not only was much lost but that some aspects of the tales were changed to fit not only this convention of literature but also for the sake of politics.

We know that Snorri wasn't above altering certain things to appease those in charge, and we also know that his Edda is tainted by referring to the classical world of antiquity. He says God created Heaven and Earth, and all mankind is descended from Adam & Eve, he also attests that Thor is descended of the historical Trojan King Agamemnon. Snorri was more than happy to mix in and out references to Judeo-Christian tradition, as well as Greco-Roman in his myths.

This paints an uncertain picture. Which is why many today distinguish the dividing line between the Inangarđr / Utgarđr, or if you will the barrier between chaos & order.

"In the landscape of Heathen cosmology the cosmos was divided into Midgarđr (‘the middle yard’ where humans and Gods dwell) and Utgarđr (‘the outer yard’ where giants and non-human/s/Gods dwell). The Gods, though they lived on Midgarđr, lived specifically apart from the humans in the neighboring community of Asgarđr (‘the yard of the Æsir’). The Gods were physically in a between state within this cosmology. They combated the giants and other inhabitants of Utgarđr; in such a capacity, the Gods represented an ambiguous line between humans and the other beings, a barrier between chaos and order."

If you know your Greco-Roman mythology, the Giants were the predecesors of the Gods, and representated chaotic forces. In this way, a similar chasm seems to be present as told in the Nordic myths.

Taking that a step further, is in the world view, the Norse Myths and those languages are usually tied to Indo-European factors, and if you look to India and Hindu you also see Gods in this conflict and struggle between chaos and order. Kali is both a Goddess of Life and a Goddess of Death.

We seem to prescribe Western Judeo-Christian mainstream thought onto the interpretation of these myths, that there is a distinct difference between good and evil. But What we know from other ancient religions, especially pagan ones, is that those attitudes were not always present. The Gods weren't meant to be imulated. Sure some Gods may be scary, but they had a role, and the people of that time gave Them their due.

So what this all boils down to is really based off of the evidence we have (archaeological and written), we simply don't know what is the "truth" or not about the context in which these beings were treated, or frankly any of the Gods were treated, as even when there is some evidence to suggest something, that evidence still isn't free of suspicion. So ultimately, at the end of the day, it becomes a matter of personal choice and belief.

Which I think is fitting. based on what we know of the pre-Christian religion, outside of doing what was proper by honoring the Gods, ancestors, & vaettir and being a responsible friend, family member, community member there really wasn't any sort of "religious law" that said something like suicide is bad. If we look at the time of conversion in Iceland, the National lawspeaker Þorgeirr, came out and essentially said that the nation would be Christian, but whatever happened under someone's own roof, was their own business. Some may argue that this shows a Solomon type solution to a problem. But I think it says a great deal about the nature of the ancient religion versus the new religion, which dictated terms to it's followers.

I can certainly understand why some argue "if they're a jotun on the side that's meant to kill us, then they're no God of mine! If they're on our side, hey I'm all for them." For them the story of Ragnarok becomes essentially the tipping point in the conclusion and choice of belief they come to, and it's certainly understandable.

But for me personally, I look beyond the most literal interpretation of the story we've been told. Ragnarok especially as portrayed in the Edda has to much of a smacking of Christianity to it with an underlying, subconscious tone that "the Gods die, because ultimately there can be only One true God, and that of course is Yahweh." The Edda is structured with a euherimistic process, which makes the view of the Gods go from Divine, to them being little more than extraordinary but mythic men (ultimately in my mind this is also a product of Christianity). Afterall, I hardly think Adam & Eve are our forebearers (it should be Askr & Embla), that Thor is descended from a human Trojan, or that the Judeo-Christian God made our Heaven & Earth.

That is why, I study, I know my lore and use that as a springboard to dive and seek my own truth, and follow the dictates of my own heart. And unfortunately, I think we're too saturated by the prevailing modern mainstream thought that teaches us to think that truth must equate a resolute, undeniable fact. Rather we must come to understand that truth does not equate fact.

So in a nutshell, it's all about personal beliefs and variances in interpretations and approachees to the limited "evidence" we are aware of--no wonder there are so many opinions!

As for me, I honor and love Loki, (and here's some rambling thoughts I wrote ages ago on that topic). My life is rich with the blessings He has brought into my life. While He can be a harsh taskmaster, in the end He forces me to not rest on my laurels, to strive and continue to become a better person. As to the other Jotuns, I've never felt a call to them, in the way I've never felt called by Gods or Goddesses in other religions. As to everyone else, and whatever side of the fence they may be on, I choose not to judge, but rather respect the journey, because who am I to say what is true or not in the scheme of the Gods? I certainly have no eye of my own in the well.

The respect I have for the journey, for the beauty found in wrestling with these things and coming to your own interpretation and beliefs, is why when I am attending sumble elsewhere, if I know the host is uncomfortable with Loki then out of respect for my host and their beliefs I will not honor Him. Because they have the right to dictate what goes on under their own roof. But under mine, rest assured Loki is Hailed, and if people don't care for that, then they are free to leave. I'm certainly not keeping them there against their will.
Tags: asatru, etins, gods, musings

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