aesir, cultus deorum, Heathen, Hel, Pagan, Religion, vanir, what is heathenism missing
So now I’m going to start looking at “What is Heathenism Missing?” by
The longer that I’ve been involved in modern Heathenry, the more I’ve noticed that many people who have worked this religion for a long time have ended up doing one of two things: either converting to a new religion entirely, or exploring other traditions on the side (often claiming that they were sent to X tradition by the Norse gods themselves)…
Now, many would be wondering why it is that the Norse Gods would send people off to other faiths, traditions, and Gods, or people would go exploring them on their own. Dagulf thinks it is due to the missing elements in Heathenism that other religions might have, like a more preserved structural frame work.
Presumably this is so that said heathens sent off to go “aviking” can then bring these structures and techniques back to “fill in the holes.” Now, this is not an invalid theory, and under usual circumstances I might even say it is the correct theory. Except for a few key bits of evidence.
- As I mentioned yesterday, our ancestors voted to reject the Gods in the end.
- The Norse/Germanic religion is one of the best preserved Pagan religions out there, surpassing the Celtic and many others, and only surpassed by the Roman/Greek and the Khemetic.
- In many areas, the knowledge is preserved or potentially preserved, but has been made forbidden to learn, know, speak, or practice
I mentioned about Point One yesterday so I’m not going to talk about it too much here. Instead, I’m going to talk about points two and three.
I cannot stress point 2 enough as far as the overall article goes. If we take the Celtic religion in the modern day, especially the druids, there is a great absence of preserved materials for them as compared to Heathens. However…you rarely hear of Celtic recons or Druids branching out to other faiths to fill in their gaps. Now, both paths are different, they have different cultures, different attitudes, and different values. But if the problem really is “missing pieces” why is that Heathenism has such a mass “viking” issue in terms of cross religion where as Celticism does not, despite their having many more missing pieces.
Part of this could be attitudes towards innovation. My experience with Celtic and Druid paths is limited, but they do not have the same attitudes towards innovation and new practices that plague Heathenism. In heathenism, there is very much the “if it is not explicitly stated in the Lore, it shall not be done.” Even following logical conclusions from the lore is not allowed in most paths. Druidism and the Celts…don’t seem to have this attitude.
But then, presuming the Gods are intelligent beings who actually understand what is happening in modern Heathenism (which I have no reason to believe they don’t). Why then would they send people off to other paths to “learn and bring back” if they know anything brought back will be automatically rejected.
Dagulf touches on this, though I think he’s missing something as well when he says:
I find that Heathenry in general has a bit of a xenophobic streak when it comes to looking to other cultures for inspiration or practicing more than one tradition at once.
The truth is that this “xenophobic streak” isn’t in fact xenophobia at all. The fact that so many in heathenism go to different cultures disproves much in the way of “xenophobia” in modern Heathenry. Rather, what Dagulf takes for xenophobia is kainotomíaphobia, the fear of innovation.
This may be partially due to the fact that there is so much lore and other stuff presently preserved. We have a complete mythology from start to end (barring a lot of stories for the side and main characters), we have basic ideas of the ancient rites, we have a fairly complete civil history, and a pretty clear idea of what the religious roles were.
Now, this is no where near as complete as say the Cultus Deorum has to be sure, but it is complete enough to create a form of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Not the completely correct and fleshed out orthopraxy and orthodoxy of the Cultus, but hardly the very openness found at the foundations of say Druidism.
What Heathenism is left then, with, is a nearly complete house given to us by our ancestors. Oh sure, the proverbial wiring is missing, the outlets don’t work, and let us not even speak of the plumbing situation, but we have four walls, a roof, a floor, and the better part of a door. And with the typical ancestor veneration of Heathens they looked upon what had been built and said…
“Yeah, this is good enough. I don’t need anything else.”
So when you get someone who says, “Hey, some curtains by the windows would be nice,” “Maybe we should fix the door,” or even “You know what, let’s put some boards down on the dirt to make a proper floor.” You get a resounding thunderclap of rage about how “this house was built by my grandfather and it is perfect!!!!”
Heathens, a lot of them, cling to much to what we have as perfect to ever allow anything new to come fill in the gaps.
Which is very different from say the Druids who are all about “hey, how do we make a house,” or the Cultus who not only have blue prints for 200 different houses, but the guidelines to create even more if they need to (but then again, the Romans had Gods for everything down to cabinet hinges, so you kinda have to have a flexible, but sturdy, framework for expansion).
Which, really, brings us to point 3.
I touched on this a bit in several posts. Even beyond the one’s linked. But one of the major things that happened in Heathenism really started before the “Modern Revival,” and that was what I call the “Germanic Renaissance,” which flowed into WWII.
Think Wagner. Think Thule, Think the SS. Think of the Heathen Revival before the Heathen Revival. You know, that other thing we don’t talk about in Heathenism, along with our ancestors voting out the Gods. The truth is that branches in the SS, groups like the Thule society, and others all practiced Norse/Germanic Heathenism. It’s not the Heathenism we all know today. There are things we know and do that they didn’t know or do. On the other hand, there are things they knew and did that we have absolutely no idea about…and we have no idea about them willfully.
I’ve talked several times about heathenism is as much a religion of “Blood and Soil” as it is polytheistic, ancestor worship, or going a “viking.” You can still see elements of this, the Blot is supposed to be a blood offering. Most of the holidays are about connecting with the Gods and the Land. Heck, a good percentage of the pantheon is about the land itself, and most of the pantheon is about blood in some way. Spilling it, making it, guarding it, etc. Freya, the premier goddess of Heathenism is a goddess of Fertility (Land) and War (Blood). But, because so much of what had been preserved was recorded and used by the Nazis in one form or another, honestly and perversely, the entire realm of that knowledge is now Forbidden to modern Heathens…by modern Heathens.
So many of the Missing Pieces, I suspect, lie in those documents we outright reject. Philosophies which were good are out of reach because someone, somewhere, used them to do a really bad thing. And so they can never be reclaimed, never be learned from, because someone else feels that to do so will do nothing more than invite that bad thing to happen again. Despite the fact that said bad thing is happening anyways all over the world and has through out history, present, and into the future.
But no one has the guts to go looking, to go study, and to bring that back. And even if they did, we run into the problem I mentioned in point 2. Everyone will reject the innovation.
So why then, do the Gods of the Norse send out so many people to other places and pantheons?
Well, I have a theory about that as well. I’ve long believed that Faith opens up the world for Divine Influence. The more Faith a God or Gods have, the more direct action they can take in the world beyond the baseline actions needed for the function of their Domains in the world. For example, Hel’s power over death naturally through the world, but mine and other people’s faith in Hel permits her to take actions above and beyond the natural cycles of death.
Those the Gods send are people of faith. Faith is an energy, a portal, and many things beyond that. Given the ridged nature of Heathenism for the vast majority of Heathens, much of this faith is either not used, or of limited use to the Gods. This is not to say that most heathens do not have faith in the Gods, I believe they do…but faith is a two way street. Just as a faithful person can open the world to the influence of the Gods, so too can a person lock that faith down even as they give it. The Guard who let’s in the merchant has as much power over his gate as the guard who keeps the merchant out…but only for one does the merchant’s wares come into the city and make it better.
Looking to the larger geo-religious landscape out there, we can see that Christianity is failing (a good thing for all Pagan religions) but that Islam is growing (a very bad thing for all Pagan religions). Given the amount of Faith Allah recieves from his worshipers, much counter push is needed on behalf of the various Pagan pantheons in order for there worship to grow and thrive in the rapidly vacating West, and even for the enduring East (which now faces increased threat of Islamic conversion as well).
So then, those people of open mind and heart present a very powerful resource of open access Faith. Given the rigidity and hostility of much of Heathenism as it stands, those who push the boundaries of innovation, devotion, and so forth are better utilized in exchanges or crossovers. That’s why you have so much cross training or full on conversions.
I’m going to dip into my own experiences to illustrate this. I’m a devotional polytheist, as most know. And I referenced in the previous post about a “European” based Heathen who basically views me as the scum of the earth because of my devotional practices, what that path has led me to become, and because I didn’t automatically reject “bro-satru.”
Now, most people being insulted would get pissed. I didn’t. In fact…I felt sad for him. I still do. Here is a man who has no faith, no hospitality in his sole, who thinks his version of Heathenism is not just the best, but the only, and he and his fellows laugh at people me for being “clowns.”
Hel’s off on a bit of a vacation, but I’m still in touch with most of my deity companions. At this point, Skadi is fed up with Modern Heathens, at least as they tend to be encountered outside of a few groups rituals. Most heathens preach hospitality with one side of their mouths, and then shit all over the concept with their asses. As for the others in Asgard…one gets a general feeling of depression when it comes to most modern Heathens. At least a lot of the vocal ones or non-devotional ones. But each god and goddess is different and has their own views.
As for the Cultus side of things? Well…the Romans looked down on everyone anyways for not being Roman, but lately, with interactions like that being more common than not, and the adulation going to comments like that rather than against…it’s worse.
“This is the piety of the Germanics?” Jupiter will say. “How it is that Odin does not slay them all for such perversions is beyond me.”
“Such pathetic worms,” Sneers Bellona. “If this is the measure of their brotherhood and battle spirit, they deserve to be wiped out by whatever foe comes their way.”
And what’s worse in many ways is not the sneers of the Olympians…but their pity for the Aesir and Vanir. This is the quality of Heathens, this is what heathens are known for, and the best way the Norse Pantheon has to protect it’s honestly good hearted and flexible faithful is to…farm them out to other pantheons, many times loosing their best and brightest who are trying to escape the poison that has become so much of Modern Heathenism.
I myself am on the verge of completely leaving Heathenism, even as Hel and the Aesir raised me up to themselves, because of this poison. And the sad thing is…most of them are fine with it. I’ll still be part of the Helish part, still Hel’s husband and none of that part changes but…if I go full on Cultus, they’re fine with it. They are fine with all their devotional people and even just faithful people who need to…moving to other places.
Because what’s really missing in Heathenism isn’t Missing Pieces.
I love your house analogy. It’s very apt.
Where would you start if you wanted to go out and find those forbidden documents? I keep hearing that they exist, but no one that I know of has ever produced them or even provided a way to find them. I get the impression that finding some of them would require rubbing shoulders with people who would undoubtedly make my skin crawl.
Lucius Svartwulf Helsen said:
Honestly, there’s only one real way to get these documents (assuming they have be preserved and not completely destroyed). Academia. You would literally have to track down the caretakers (assuming they would admit having them), the museums, and other places like that. You’d probably have to get special permissions, etc, etc, etc. I say this because there’s all these references and works on the Thule and the SS and other groups that were openly Heathen…but everyone writing about them is doing so for history, not theology. Hence they the theological stuff tends to never get talked about.
And while you were getting it, you probably couldn’t tell anyone what you were wanting it for. And after you had got it, copied, compiled, and filled in all the missing pieces…good luck getting it out there or getting Heathens to accept it.
While one would think these documents would be in the hands of racist groups… my general impression is that they really aren’t. These things were likely gobbled up quickly and secreted away so those groups couldn’t have them. that’s why even the “racist” heathens have…pretty much the same stuff we do, and no real extra. If they do, I haven’t seen it.
Jön Upsal's Gardener said:
Most of those documents come from the Ahnenerbe division of the SS. The records are stored in Washington, D.C. by the Federal government. If I’m not mistaken, the Temple of Set was creating an index of all the documents collected by the U.S. government, but I have no idea if the project ever came to fruition. But the documents themselves are in the National Archives.
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Jön Upsal's Gardener said:
Here’s a case where I find myself in agreement with both sides.
On the one hand, you’re entirely correct when you say that Germanic Heathenry is much more well-attested than most people realize. There’s so much information that goes so far beyond what most Asatruar incorporate into their practice, it’s a shame. My own kick right now is post-conversion folklore and conversion-era Christian sources, and it’s a gold mine.
But everyone seems content to stand in a circle, passing a horn around, saying “Hail Thor!” a dozen times and call it a blót, because that’s sort of crystalized as “standard Asatru practice” since the early 1990’s (the Internet’s influence there cannot be over-estimated). Heck, even holding a separate sumbel is a relatively new innovation, and that came in because of Theodism’s influence.
On the other hand, even with that wealth of material, we still have precious few details. We know there were chants and songs and dances done during ritual, but we don’t have any idea what they were like. We know they must’ve said prayers during ritual, but we have no idea what they were, with precious few exceptions, and those are just informed guesses. And the household cults of the tomten and the alfar? There’s a huge wealth of information, but a lot of it’s still in Scandinavian languages, and in dire need of de-Christianizing, after a millennium of being practiced “close to the vest”. Not to mention the folk-magical practices (and I love it when I see fragments come together; just today I was reading an account of Appalachian folk-magic done to read the calls of crows, written a couple of years ago, that is exactly the same as an account from the 6th century condemning the very same thing).
That’s where the “filling in the cracks” part comes in, as far as I’m concerned. There still are a ton of details to be filled in; the words used, the dances and songs, the details about which phase of the moon is best for this or that, or the parts of the blót that come before sprinkling everyone with the hlaut (sacrificial blood). That’s where we need to look farther afield.
But I am firmly in agreement with you that those cracks are much fewer than most Asatruar seem to realize, despite all the “homework” they claim to do. Perhaps we need a couple fewer deep analyses of Viking-era graveyards and a few more of Scandinavian, Germanic, and English folk-customs and Medieval pagan survivals.
But I would close by urging you not to give up on Heathenry just because of a couple of jackasses on the Internet. You really do have a lot to contribute and I, for one, thoroughly enjoy your writing on Heathen topics, even when we do disagree. Stay in for the good fight – you could help make the difference and help guide Heathenry on a firmer path.
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