One of the things we run into in Heathenism is the whole “What is Good and what is Evil.”
This is not a surprising thing, we’ve all been raised in a society with an emphasis on the “morality” of life, of good and evil, and what one should not do lest they face punishment divine and eternal. We’ve been force fed a world where somethings are evil simply because they displease a God and we’ve been fed the rules of that God, consciously or unconsciously.
But Asatru, and Heathenism, does not have a concept of Evil. We don’t. There was no evil out there for us. Now, there are bad things out there, and there are things you should probably not do, but there is not evil.
Many a Heathen finding this out wonders, “what is good, then?” How should I live, without the clear cut morality that I’m used to?
The answer is simple, you seek to live a good life, and what is good is this: Do right by your Kin (Divine and Mortal), Keep your Word/Honor, and Seek Glory.
We’ll start by looking at keeping your Word/Honor. Your word is your bond, your honor is your worth, and that which you say you will do, you must do, or it brings forth bad consequences to not just you, but your kin as well. Here’s an example. A man and wife say that they will love each other, share their wealth, and raise a family under the Oath of Marriage. But when that Oath is broken, bad will is let out, often on the innocent, as many a husband or wife who thought they were being a good spouse has found out when a vengeful other tore their world apart. Children are ripped from a family and often turned against one parent or another. Wealth is sundered and one spouse is left destitute, and depending on which spouse that is, can often find themselves in financial slavery to the other for decades, if not longer.
(This is not to say that divorces is a bad thing, and our ancestors allowed both husbands and wives to divorce each other. Sometimes, things cannot be saved, and it is better for a family to part).
But say you keep your word. You help a friend when you say you would. The bonds become stronger, and that friend will help you out in turn, especially if they are a Heathen and the rule of Gift for Gift is in force. Showing up on time to your job, paying your bills, placing food on the table of your family, and a roof over the heads of Kin, these are honorable and will breed good things. The Gods reward those who live with honor, and so too with good mortal kin as well.
This brings us to doing right by your Kin. This one is sometimes harder. Gift for Gift is of course in full effect here, but there is more than that. You hold the Honor of your Kin with your deeds. Think of Hitler, and his deeds, now think of everyone who shares in the name of Hitler? Think of what life must be like for them, even if they share little or no blood with Adolf? With his deeds, Adolf Hitler dragged the name of not just himself, but his kin, down with him. But think of George Washington? His name was made great, so great that even those with no blood to him have taken his name in order to both Honor him, and to evoke some of his power.
You determine how people will view your kin.
But this is also true for your Heathen Kin. When you are open about your faith, and you should be for this brings one on the path of Glory, no matter the hardships, you speak and set an example of every other Heathen out there. If you say you worship Odin, but then lie to all you meet, what will they think of you? Of fellow Heathens? Of Odin himself? Will they see you as a man of your word, or someone who should be shunned and mistrusted?
You will come across those who say they are Heathens, but who rant and hiss at those of other races, who speak of conspiracies and attempts to destroy the Kin. Do not question their faith, for it is in each man’s heart that he must determine what and how much he believes. But know that they do harm the Kin, for it allows others to claim that we are all Racists, and that we follow the same path as Hitler, and this defames our kin. I do not concern myself with the thoughts or potential plans of any such people that might be out there who do seek to destroy our Kin, because I trust that our Gods will see to our defense, and that by living good and honorable lives, we will show the world what it truly means to be Heathens, and that the conspiracies and plots of fiends and tricksters will come to naught.
Mostly because I also trust in my sword, and if such a fiend comes to my house to try and smash my idols, defame my altar, and to harm my family, I will have a sacrifice or two to give to the Gods. 🙂
Lastly is to seek glory. When you become successful, and more importantly, become successful through Honorable means, your name becomes Great. People will look up to you and wish to emulate you. They may see your faith as the key to your success, and so come to the Gods. They may see what being honorable does, and so to begin to live honorable lives.
Heathens, both old and new, respected those who had wealth and power, if only enough to provide a good home to their families. It meant that not only were you not lazy (something that was bad) but that the Gods favored you (which is undeniably good!). If you work hard and keep your oaths, Glory will follow, if only in the form of respect from those who are grateful that you can be relied upon.
But what do you do about people that abuse your honor, your good will, and harm your kin? That is simple, you give a gift for a gift. If a man is an oathbreaker, who gives you his word and then willfully forgoes keeping it (this is different from someone who says they will do something, but some outside force prevents it), you should turn against with all your will. In that instance, you can, maybe even must, do what you can to prevent harm from coming to yourself or the Kin.
As for what you should not do? There are numerous laws out there from Heathen times, and I’ll likely touch on them, but here are the big three that you should never do.
1) Break an Oath you have any way of keeping, no matter the personal cost.
2) Kinslaying. Never slay a kinsman except in an honorable fight. For if you do it in secret, through trickery, this is Murder, and is far different and much hated by the Gods than simply killing another.
3) The Rape of a Free Person. Against Man or Woman, rape is wrong, regardless of which gender or sexual orientation you or they are. Our ancestors, and we, are open to almost anything sexually, indeed we have at least four Gods and Goddesses that govern sex and sexuality. You can do almost anything you like, but do not rape your kin or a free person. This displeases the Gods greatly, and brings a bad name to you and to the Kin.
So, here’s some hard and fast rules for basic Morality in Heathenism that can get you started. If you have questions, feel free to drop in comments, or reach me through the email posted at the Communication tab.
Does this help Me and more importantly, does this help the Kin?
1) It helps me and the Kin: It is Good 🙂
2) It helps me, and is neutral to the Kin: It’s probably good. 🙂
3) It helps the Kin, and is neutral to me: It’s probably good. 🙂
4) It helps me, but hurts the Kin: It’s probably bad. 😦
5) It helps the Kin, but it hurts me: It’s a grey area, but it might be good, for without the kin we are lost. Speak to the Gods and length about this, and with your kin.
6) It hurts me, and it hurts the Kin: It’s BAD! 😡
I’ll talk about all of this more later, but this will get you started.
As a bit of an outsider I must say I found this a thought provoking and refreshing read.