With all the talk about Orthodoxy I’ve been doing, plus my post yesterday about the Anti-Fascists vs the Soldiers of Odin, I’ve been thinking about what it is that Hel has taught me. And there’s been a story, a myth, a tale, floating around in my head. So I figured I’d share it.
Towards the end of World War II, two men found themselves crossing the river Gjöll and on their way to Helheim. Both men were of German origin and both men had rejected Christianity, necessitating their coming to the halls of Hela for their afterlife. For a person returns to the gods of his ancestors if not bound to another god.
The first man was a Nazi, a member of the SS, and worshiped the Norse Gods, as some of the SS were want to do. When he discovered himself at the Gjallharbru, he was not overly surprised at its existence, though he had hoped that his service would gain him access to the golden halls of Valhalla. But the war was already turning against Germany and he had died in a retreating action. Honor and glory were not to be his, it seemed.
The second man was a Communist, who had defected from Germany when the Nazi’s took power and went off to join Comrade Stalin. He too had rejected the Christian god, but was an atheist as was the want and tradition among good members of the communist party. He did not know the myths of his people as well as the Nazi did, and was confused by the Glittering roofed bridge that they found themselves crossing over.
As they stepped off the bridge, they came to a giant of a woman. Full twice as hall as the tallest of them, and leaning casually upon a sword two-thirds her own height. Her hair was as white as winter’s deepest snows and her eyes were those of a mighty killer who has slain numbers beyond human measure and enjoyed every one of them. She looked them over, and both men felt fear as they had never felt before, but the woman merely nodded and waved them through gates that towered over even the woman.
Through the gate they went, and walked upon a path to a great hall. Inside the hall they found many empty tables, and at the end of the hall upon a raised dais sat a woman as tall as the first. She was beautiful beyond measure, and horrific beyond words. One half of her face was the pale color of a beautiful maiden, but the other half was the frozen black of a frostbitten corpse. Both men shuddered, for they had seen such things before, in the half black bodies of those that died buried in snow during the Russian campaign. The Nazi knew her, and even the Communist remembered the tales of his youth.
Hela, Goddess of the Dead. Goddess of the Dishonored.
The Nazi knew in his heart then that his cause and people were doomed. Only someone who was not to be honored after their death would find themselves in this hall. There would be no Valhalla for him, or for his brothers. Indeed, it seemed perhaps that his people were doomed as well, for surely they would respect a soldier who had given his all for his country, no matter how vile the deeds required.
The Communist was confused though. He had fought for the liberation of the working class, both in the Soviet Army and before in the streets as an anti-fascist. Surely he was a hero, like every Soviet soldier fighting the exploitation of the proletariat by those disgusting Bourgeois who exploited them. His face twisted with rage, but he found he could not speak.
“Do you know why you have come here?” Hela asked. Her voice had a plurality to it, both the soft, loving voice of a maiden speaking to the man she loved, and the rasp of a long ill and dying woman. Both men shuddered to hear it.
“I do,” Said the Nazi, his head dropping for a moment. But then he shook himself and stood with pride. “I do,” he said in a firmer voice.”
“Well I don’t!” snapped the Communist. “This shouldn’t even be happening! Gods aren’t real, and I’m a good person! I fought to protect people from Fascists like this pig!”
Hela tilted her head, looking them over in turn. “You are here because your ancestors were here. Because you forsook the Christian God and returned to the power of our Ancestors Gods.” She said, finger tracing small circles on the edge of her throne. “You are here because you are judged dishonored, and to face my judgment as to your fate.”
Hela looked to the Nazi and beckoned him forwards. He did as bid, standing at ridged attention. This was a Goddess he would show both respect and yet not show his fear. He was the pride of his people and he would not shame them, even if he was to be shamed in death.
“You are Schutzstaffel, yes?” Hela asked. Her black finger tapped the wood of her throne.
“Ja, I am.” The Nazi replied.
“You have killed a lot of people,” Hela purred, “You worked the camps for a year yes? Before you were sent to the Russian front.” The Nazi nodded. “Many innocents died in that camp. Women, children. Their god is very upset about that. He wanted your soul for his own pleasures and damnation. But you are mine…you are mine…”
The Nazi felt fear, but steeled his heart as the Goddess continued. “Tell me, my little Schutzstaffel…why did you do it?” She purred in her half beautiful, half mad voice.
“To protect my people,” He found himself saying. “Because I was ordered to. The Fuhrer said they were responsible for our suffering, that they exploited us, chained us down, made us slaves in our homes, starved our children. That they were the reason Germany was betrayed, punished for crimes we did not commit and why our children would have no future unless we acted and got rid of them.”
“Hmm,” Hela said. “And you believed your…Fuhrer?”
“I did,” the Nazi said.
“Because he led us out of our misery. It was as he said, as soon as the Jews were removed, things got better. We got our pride back, our nation prospered, hope was restored.”
A sound of protest came from the Communist, but the Nazi ignored him. Hela however, did not.
“You have something to add?” She asked.
“I most certainly do!” the communist snarled. “This fascist and his fuhrer didn’t liberate anyone or give them hope, they merely exploited the German people in new ways for their own gains! Their fascist, capitalist system merely gives them the illusion that they are free, but they’re just as exploited as they ever were! I fought his kind in the streets and I’d do again to get rid of them and the way they enslave and exploit people!”
Hela tilted her head in birdlike curiosity. Her eyes seemed to penetrate deep into the Communist man’s soul. The Goddess let out a little hum of pleasure. “Tell me, are you different from this nazi?”
“I am!” snarled the communist, glaring at the SS officer. “I am different in every way!”
“But you fought on the street like he did.” Hela said. “You used violence to enforce your vision on others as he did.”
“That’s different,” the communist said, spitting on the ground. “He fought to enslave people, I fought to free them.”
“Free them?” Hela said, tilting her head the other way, “Are they free in your Soviet Union?”
“Of course they are.” the communist said proudly. “They have been liberated from the exploitation of the capitalists. and the fascists.”
“Hmm,” Hela said, tapping her finger to her lips and looking dreamily at the beams spanning the great hall. “You both fought in the streets to enforce your vision. He did it to defend his people, you did it to defend other people. It seems the same to me.”
The communist sputtered something in his rage, but Hela continued. “He fought because his leaders told him to. You fought because your leaders told you too.” Her voice was dreamy, distant, as if looking upon the skein of their lives. “You beat men in the streets, took them from their homes, and sent them to camps as well.”
“So?” the communist sputtered, “They were exploiting the workers, and tried to teach the workers that such an exploitation was good! They deserved it.”
“But when Schutzstaffel does it he’s bad in your eyes?” Hela asked, glancing at the two men.
“He’s a damn fascist who did it to exploit people and keep them under the power of his Fuhrer!” the communist snarled.”
“My, my,” Hela said, tapping her finger to her lips again. “So you feel ends and means are justified based on intent?”
“I-what?” the communist asked.
“You both perform an action,” Hela said, “Yet when you do it, a thing is good, and when he does it, a thing is bad. But they are the same thing. It is good because you do it, because you feel your motives are pure and noble, but you feel that his motives are evil and unjust and so his actions are evil and unjust.”
The Communist opened his mouth, but no words would come out. For Hela had sealed their tongues. Instead, she continued. “I have seen the measure of your kings, what they have done. The dead flood my kingdom, and I hear each and every one of their life’s tales, as I have heard them from your souls. You are not the first of your kind, nor will you be the last.” She said softly.
“Each of you is a totalitarian. Each of you has killed and even murdered for your causes. Side by side, there is no difference in your ultimate actions. Ultimately, if it were by deeds alone you were to be judged, it would be to the same fate.” Hela said, “However…there is an element to each of you that warrants a different fate.”
Both men looked at each other in confusion, unsure as to what the Goddess meant. Was it something they had said, was it something she had seen? The tales of her were too old and broken to know what she might do to them, and they feared as they had not feared before.
“My little SS soldier boy,” Hela murmured, “forever denied Valhalla. There are some who say I should deny you even Helheim’s embrace, but feed you to Nidhoggr, dragon that eats the roots of the world tree. But I don’t think that is to be your fate. You have done monstrous deeds, but so have many who reside within my realm. These shall not be the cause of your damnation.”
“No, you shall be allowed to pass on to my realm, to live with others like you. You have done monstrous things, but you did them for your people. This at least, is deserving of some respect, even if no honor shall ever be yours. There is a place, set aside for you. For you have been honest and dutiful, willing to pay any price.”
“T-thank you, my lady,” The Nazi said, with a deep bow and tears in his eyes.
“What!” the Communist roared. “You will spare this fascist filth, what manner of a God are you?”
“I am a Goddess of Death,” Hela said, tilting her head again. “I am Goddess of Judgement.”
“That power is unjust!” the communist roared, “Who are you to set yourself above other people? Why should you have any authority over others? Your existence is an injustice, your very actions an affront to equality! You should be overthrown with the rest of those bastards who exploit people!”
“Hmm, should I?” murmured Hela. “It is unjust to set one’s self above others?”
“Yes!” spat the Communist.
“It is unjust to have authority over them?” Hela asked, looking thoughtful.
“Absolutely!” the communist snarled. “Everyone should be equal, all voices have an equal value, and to be otherwise is to create an injustice upon all mankind!”
“But you did those things,” Hela said, her voice echoing through the hall despite its softness.
“W-what?” the communist stuttered.
“You set yourself as an authority,” Hel said. “You decided who was harmful and you punished them. You and your leaders chose how to remake your nations. You punished those who spoke out against you, you sat in judgment. You placed yourself in a position of authority over others.”
“Bu-but I-we had to!” the communist said. “They wouldn’t have seen the truth otherwise. They would not have been free otherwise!”
“But you did do it,” Hela said, “You have, by your own admission, violated your very beliefs and morality.”
The communist stuttered for a moment as the Goddess’s full focus fell upon him. “By your own standards, you are evil and unjust. That you did not see the truth of it does not matter. Your actions meet your standards of evil, evil you swore an oath to undo. An oath you broke when you committed that same evil.” She said, her voice growing hard. She pointed to the nazi, “He at least, did not claim his kind of actions were unjust when others did them. Violence he may have meted out upon the helpless, but it was violence within his morality. But you!” she pointed at the communist, “You meted out violence upon the innocent even as you proclaimed that was inherently against your morality. You may have justified it by calling them evil, but that doesn’t change the fact that you held yourself to a different standard and excused actions you considered evil simply because you were doing them!
“Your fate,” she said, voice filled with finality, “Is to be fed to Nidhoggr, for you have done a far worse thing. A thing worthy of the complete destruction of your soul. Your hypocrisy, oath-breaking, and excuses go too far to allow you entry into my realm. You called yourself righteous even as you practiced evil. Had you at least the courage to admit what you were, I could have had mercy upon your soul, but instead you fought ever harder to prove you were not evil by committing ever greater evils to cover your crimes.”
A pair of ghostly warriors appeared and seized the communist, dragging him from the halls as he screamed insults and curses. Soon, though, there was but the last fading scream as he was sent to the abyss beyond the river Gjöll to where the dread dragon lives.
And so it was that two men were judged in the halls of Hela.
I’m sure there’s few people confused by this story, or why I put this myth here, what the lessons of it should be. No doubt, some are offended at the mere concept, much less reality, that a Nazi might be ushered into the realm of Helheim rather than being automatically tossed in a dragon’s ever hungry maw. Or they might think that the communist getting such a fate is because of my recent battles with Marxists.
Myth, parable, story, regardless, does it play out that way because it was real, or because there’s a lesson to be learned here, or both? The truth is, all of the above, for me at least. Many people like to believe the nazis were the worst thing on this planet. We’ve been fed that story since our parent’s birth and there should never be any denying that the Nazis were horrible. Maybe just not the most horrible, if we want to go by body counts.
The truth is though, when you get down to it, the political story of the Nazis was pretty much the same as the Communists. Jews are exploiting the people. The Wealthy are exploiting the people. It’s a lot like how the alt-right and the progressive left pretty much have the same story and mind set. X group is responsible for Y group’s oppression/destruction.
So is the true lesson of the parable that nazi’s aren’t all bad, but communists are? No. No, the answer lies in what the communist did, rather than his ideology being worse than the Nazi’s.
It was the double standard.
Anyone who has read my blog for any amount of time probably will realize where I’m going with this. Mostly because it was one of the first lessons Hela drilled into my demonic little head. An action is an action, regardless of the motivation. An action does not become bad or good based on who is doing it. And an action is certainly not good when done by one group and evil when done by another group.
I’ve talked about his with the Marxism thing. I’ve talked about this with GLBT rights. I talked about this back when the whole Trans vs Dianics thing was going down. I’ve talked about it a lot. Totalitarianism is totalitarianism, for example. It doesn’t matter who does it, the thing is the thing itself.
So when Christians insist that their religious/moral views be made law at the expense of someone else, that’s totalitarianism. And when the GLBT lobby insists that their moral views be made law at the expense of the Christians, this too is totalitarianism.
Now, when the Christians are totalitarian, they feel they are in the right, but the LGBT community feels they are in the wrong. When the LGBT community is totalitarian, they feel they are in the right, and the Christians feel they are in the wrong. Each group acts in a totalitarian fashion to enforce “Their rights” and “Their freedoms.” Each feels morally justified for doing the exact same action they find morally reprehensible when done by their opponents.
If you look back at the parable above, no where does the Nazi say that the communist is evil for doing the same actions as the nazi did for the perceived good of his people (beating up people, putting them in camps, killing them). But the Communist did.
Gods & Radicals has done a lot of writing about how the New Right is “Exclusionary, totalitarian, etc” yet at the same time they have argued for exclusion, totalitarianism, and most of the same things they claim are evil at the hands of the New Right. It is perfectly acceptable to do “evil actions” if you are of the righteous and noble.
Except in Helheim, that is not the case. You can do an evil action if you wish. The definition of evil actions changes so often that really there’s not much use trying to keep up with things. Sure, there are objective standards (don’t break oaths, don’t kinslay, stuff like that which is universally dishonorable), and doing something evil will not end you with a happy fate. But a good part of the judgement in Helheim comes from your own morality. What did you define in life as evil, unacceptable, vile actions, especially in others.
And then did you do those thing yourself, but excuse it because of who/what you were.
Who you are is no excuse for what you do. Not in Hela’s eyes at least. It doesn’t matter how hard your life is, how against you the world is, if you define an action as immoral, and then do that action with the excuse that it is good when you do it because of how hard your life is, or how much the world is against you, or just plain who you are, do not expect honorable welcomes and pleasant outcomes in her hall.
In death, all people are equal. It doesn’t matter your gender, orientation, sex, wealth, or race. You are there, you are a person, your deeds alone are what matter. Not what the world did you, not even what it did to you to warrant your actions. Your actions are your responsibility and if they greatly violate the codes of honor, or even your own defined morality, that is your responsibility. And your actions are not excused.
I suppose if you wanted to, you could call that a first lesson in Helatru Orthodoxy. That’s why I often take the positions I do on this blog, even if it means “defending” groups I don’t personally like or agree with. I am of Helheim and I am to live by Helheim’s law, for I am deus of that law under Hela. So when I call out someone for doing something wrong, 99% of the time is as much because it is wrong in the eyes of the person doing it (even if they have blinded themselves to this fact) as it is because it violates any moral codes Hela has instructed me to follow.