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At last we come to the sixth of the Nine Noble Virtues, Kinship.
If you asked a Heathen what Heathenism is about they will tell you that’s it. Kinship. Family. The bonds of blood and land and ancestry. Not in any racist “We’re better because we are X” way, but in a this is my father, this is my mother, these are my brothers and sisters, these are my sons and daughters, these are my grandparents, their parents, their parents before them, etc.
I mean, probably the most famous Viking prayer of all goes: “Lo there do I see my father. Lo there do I see my mother, and my sisters, and my brothers. Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning. They do call to me, and bid me take my place among them, in the Halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever.”
It’s not a prayer about strength, or even courage really, it’s not about joy, honor, or freedom. It’s about family. That’s what we think about at that moment of death. Seeing our family again. There’s a story about a Norseman who was going to convert to Christianity, but when told that all his ancestors were burning in hell, shrugged and said something along the lines of, “It doesn’t sound so bad. It is better to be with them in suffering than alone in paradise.”
Kinship also brings a balance to the other Virtues. Strength gives you the power to do things, Courage gives you the will, Joy keeps you going in the dark days of doing, Honor makes sure you stick with it, and Freedom is both what lets you act and is your reward. But kinship keeps you from being alone. Knowing that there’s gonna be someone there who has your back in the bad times is important, and it keeps you from rushing along and suicide because of the loneliness. It gives you a reason and a purpose.
The entire Viking Age, I think, was largely about Kinship. Yes, my ancestors got lots and lots of booty from it, but ultimately it was because Charlemagne killed 4500 Saxons after forcibly converting them to Christianity and destroying every artifact of their culture and religion. Not only were the Saxons and the Danes blood relatives, it also showed that the Christians were out to kill the very Gods, who were also blood relatives to the Norse. The fact that Vikings attacked Churches and Christian kingdoms so rabidly is more understandable if we look at it from the lens of vengeance and protecting family over the base greed for gold and slaves.
Every festival, every societal structure, was about family. Scandinavia is a frozen wasteland for the most part, with few resources and more snow than anything. Back then, if you didn’t have everything together, you died, your family died, Hel, pretty much everyone could die. And we were a warrior people, and you have to trust that the man and woman next to you has your back. You’re strong because you have to be strong. You’re courageous because fear not only profits you nothing, it gets you killed. You’re joyful, because when there’s no light for days you have to laugh or you’ll break. You’re honorable because if no one trust you then you’re left in the cold to die. You’re free, because slavery means giving up your right to live as you want and need too, to be strong, courageous, joyful, and honorable. And you have family, because when your strength flags they hold you up, when your courage fails they keep you going, because when you’re scared they have a joke and a horn of mead, because when you want to go back on your word because it’s too hard they make you keep it. And they are there when you feel alone and lost, and let you know that they are there for you. That’s what family does.
And that’s why Kinship is everything to a Heathen. That’s why sometimes people might call some of us racists, because we are proud of our family, because we understand the value of that family, and we cherrish it. Your average Heathen doesn’t give a crap about skin color, though they might about religion. He or she doesn’t think they’re better than someone just because he/she is of European lineage. We’re just proud of where we come from, who brought us forth, what they did. We’re proud of who we are today, what we’ve done, and what we plan to do. It’s also why you never want to threaten a Heathen’s family. We’re a warrior people still, and while we may be farmers, business professionals, or even guys like me who try to figure out what we are while typing away at a computer, we will fight, and we will make sure that those who threaten our family and kin never get to do so again. That’s why a lot of us sound like Israel after the Holocaust with the “NEVAR AGAIN!” stuff towards Christianity (or anything, really, that threatens to suppress and destroy our Heathen ways again.” We’ve got a thousand odd years of our people being stolen, oppressed, enslaved, and taught to hate our family as evil. Our ancestors went down fighting. We can do no less if we wish to enter the Three Halls with any sort of honor and be welcome.