So today is Eyvind Kinnrif’s Day. For those who are not in the know (and I’m not one of them, sorry) Eyvind Kinnrif was a Norseman who was tortured to death by Olaf Tryggvason because he would not convert from the Heathen religion to the new Christian one. The method, at least what I could find on the web, was that Olaf placed a bowl of burning embers on Eyvind’s belly till it ruptured.
Despite what some may like to say about it being a seamless transition from the Old Religions to Christianity, it wasn’t.
Eyvind’s story wasn’t unique. There’s dozens, hundreds, of stories like his. I remember reading in one book on the vikings, that when one man refused to convert, they Christian forces forced a metal tube between his teeth and fed a live snake down his throat, leaving him to die as it dug it’s way out.
There is another story of a Norseman who was ready to convert to Christianity, but when he found out that his ancestors would be burning in Hell and that he would be removed from them, he declined. Because he would rather be tortured with his family than part from them for eternity.
Of course, the most famous for “Germanic” Heathens has to be the Bloody Verdict of Verdun, where depending on which version you hear, the leaders of the Saxons were converted to Christianity and slaughtered so they couldn’t go back, or that they and their families were converted and then slaughtered. It is said the river ran red with blood for at least a month with the blood of four thousand of the Heathen Saxons.
Some theorize that the Slaughter at Verdun is what sparked the Viking Age, as it happened just ten years before Lindisfarn Abbey, and a prince of the Saxons had close ties with the Danes.
What can we learn from this?
Sometimes, Faith means the ultimate sacrifice. And that sometimes, you believe in something so much that it doesn’t matter if pain and death come for you, you don’t let it go. This is a lesson that Pagans and Heathens need to learn well and remember. Fair weather faith means little.
True faith runs deep. It means believing in something so hard you will not let it go even if it kills you. This is not dogmatism, which denies anything but itself. This is something far greater.
It is this faith that bound us together for thousands of years before the god of Abraham strode out of the dessert on the shoulders of his people to convert the world. It is this kind of faith that can bind us together again.
Because the faith of Pagans and Heathens is not found in an omnipotent god. Our faith comes from Kin, from our families, from our ancestors, from our Gods and Goddesses, from the land and the blood. People like to sneer at those who cry the value of blood and soil, but those are true values, which they have lost. It is the love of family, mortal and divine, that is stronger than anything else. That was the faith of our Martyrs. Not as their martyrs, who died praying for the return of their god to smite the Heathens and Pagans. Our Martyrs died for Gods that are Already Here. That are Still Here. That can be our faith, because that is our faith.
Keep that Faith. Honor those who died so that it might live on. Keep the Faith.