So I don’t talk about Helish/Helar dogma/philosophy much on this blog. Mostly because…well it’s for the Dead. Let the living focus on the business of living, and let the dead worry about the dead. Heathenism isn’t about damnation/salvation either, so not a lot of reason to talk about things that could fall into that idea. The other point of it is that opening up the door of Helheim philosophically has the potential to change things within Asatru/Heathenism at large.
Heathenism, as a set of religions, focuses on two things primarily: Honor and Family. Our largest split in Heathenism is about Family, with the Folkish saying “blood is family” and the Universalists saying “everyone is family if they want to be.” (Except those fucks who look like white people that keep insisting they’ve got rights, they’re not family and never should be).
And everyone is driven by the desire to be Honored. While most Heathens today are starting to get old enough to where they accept that is is likely Helheim that they are going to rather than Valhalla or Folkvangr, they are still obsessed with Honor and being Honored. Which, honestly, is how it’s always been, even with the Heathens of old. Cattle Die, Kinsmen die, but a Good Name Lives Forever.
Note that I said they’re obsessed with Honor and being Honored…but not that they’re obsessed with being Honorable.
Not a great deal is preserved about Helheim and its Queen in the Lore. While I do have the suspicion that part of this is due to Christian purges, I do think a very large part of it is the fact that Hel has always been rather insular about her Realm and its ways.
One of the most common known bits, however is that it is the realm of the “Dishonored Dead” and that “Dishonorable People” are fed to Nidhoggr. But there’s always (for me growing into Heathenism) been the issue of who gets fed to the dragon as opposed to simply getting to live in Helheim. It’s also a question that tends to be largely ignored among Heathens at large.
If they do seem to think about it, they seem to assume that it is their “foes” who are the ones fed to the dragon for being dishonorable. While they and theirs, if not obtaining Valhalla, would find sanctuary in Hel’s Halls.
But while my fellow Heathens, busy raising their Horns to Odin and Thor have been obsessed with Honor, I as a devote of Hela sought instead to understand Her and Her realm’s natures of Dishonor. And I learned an important lesson:
There is a difference between “Dishonored” and “Dishonorable.”
To understand this we must first realize that Honor takes two forms. Honor is in deeds which are good, but Honor is also in Esteem. A man who does good deeds is Honorable, but a man people think well of is Honored. Typically, we like to think these go hand in hand, that we will Honor the person who does Honorable things. And vice versa, that a person who is Dishonored has done Dishonorable things.
This, however, is not always the case. And I’ll give two examples:
Example A) Hillary Clinton is a woman who is well document for having taken bribes, sold favors and positions, violated numerous oaths, broken numerous laws, etc. as well as leads several groups of people who do these things as well in Her Name. These are all actions we would consider highly dishonorable, i.e. against the nature of honor. And yet millions of people Honor Mrs. Clinton, they honor her enough to support her bid to become the most powerful person in their country, perhaps even the world. Hillary Clinton is Honored…even though she would be the poster image for Dishonorable.
Example B) The SS. To a man, they are reviled, considered the worst of humanity, dishonored by all “good people” who hear of them and what they did. But…they kept their oaths, they fought to defend their people, they followed the orders of their leaders, even in the face of fighting in horrible conditions or having to commit horrible deeds that reasonably should break any human being faced with doing even a fraction of them. As a rule, keeping your oaths, facing hardships to save your nation and your people, and obeying the command of your “king” are deeds we would consider the epitome of Honor…yet they are Dishonored.*(1)
Honorable Deeds are not always going to end with the result of being Honored for doing them. Being Dishonorable is not always going to end with one being Dishonored. But the Dishonored Dead find peace in the realm of Hela, where it is that the Dishonorable Dead are fed to Nidhoggr.
So what made me put this to paper (or blog, as the case may be)? Well, I suppose it would have to be after writing those posts responding to Declaration 127 by Huginn’s Heathen Hoff and its supporters.
The truth is that HHH and everyone signing off on it are very, very obsessed with the public perception of Heathenism. They want their Heathen Religions to be Honored among the populace around them. Because then they would be Honored for being Honorable Heathens.
Except they are not being Honorable Heathens.
Honor is simple, it is a set of actions that are deemed “Good.” Especially as they relate to one’s actions for or towards one’s own people. To speak up, or act, in defense of one’s people. To fight for the preservation of your family. To see that it continues on, a legacy and a lineage of children who pass on that legacy and lineage to their children, and their children’s children, and so on.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the kind of actions that the Asatru Folk Assembly has taken and spoken about lately. McNallen got in trouble for demanding that “his people” rise up to defend themselves and their women in the face of massive crime waves and gang rapes that were going unopposed by those with the power who had sworn oaths to stop such actions. The new Chief Gothi got in trouble for saying “We are our people, we wish to keep being our people, live by our traditions, and have our children as our future.” Honorable things, by the most ancient codes of Heathen Honor. Yet they are Dishonored (or put another way un-honored) by their fellow heathens despite following the ancient ways of honor.
Declaration 127 is about a bunch of Heathens who wish to be Honored…but they are being Dishonorable. They are attacking their “own” for the crime of…being Honorable. Wanting to preserve their peoples and traditions. They Dishonor their own for the sake of a vain desire to be Honored by People’s not their Own (Non-Heathens). They lie about what is said, about the intentions and desires of the AFA. They slander, they dishonor, so that they might rise, to have a position of Honor and Respect themselves, which many outside of Heathenism have grudgingly given them, calling them the “Good Heathens.” As if they were dogs to be praised for not shitting on the carpet. And the worst of it is they break their own codes of honorable ethics to do so. They say there is no room for racism in Heathenism…and then take racist actions against their fellow Heathens.
The AFA are the Honorable who are Dishonored. But the signers of Dec 127 are the Honored who are Dishonorable.
In Helheim, it doesn’t matter all that much if you’re honored for your deeds. A silent man who lives an honorable life in the shadows is welcomed in Hel’s hall with feasts and respite from life’s trials. A man who does what needs be done for his people, even if he is later hated for it, finds comfort in the lands of the Dishonored Queen. To do what must be done, that is honor.
But in Helheim, the man praised to Asgard for his person, if his deeds are a betrayal all he claimed to stand for, finds no comfort. The Man who, though praised and uplifted above all, can find himself in the dragon’s maw if he betrays the ways of honorable deeds. If his hand is not even, if his hatred is given to one man for doing the same thing he praises another man for doing. If a man’s hall is open to all but those he reviles simply for their attempts to live as he allows all others to live …that is the one whom Nidhoggr shall feast upon.
These are the words I must say, these are the rites and ways of Helheim. Though I would like to remain neutral in regards, as befits the Gods and is good, I find that I must speak out. I must let known one of the ways of Helheim, because folkish or universalist, those who worship the Gods fall under Hela’s domain, and I would not see any cast out for ignorance of what is good and right.
I offer this as both a warning, but also a comfort. Though you may find yourself Dishonored by many peoples, know that your fate is not a cruel one. But beware seeking Honor too greedily for fear of being Dishonored, for the Glory you have in life may come at a price in death, should your deeds be false ones cruelly committed for the glory of a hateful mob.
*(1) I’m sure no doubt people will be screaming that the SS is dishonored because of their part in the Holocaust. This is true, and relevant, until one starts to realize that most of the language used towards the Jews by the Nazi Party that led to the holocaust is also language used these days by many on the political left to argue for the extermination of “Whiteness” and that violence is an acceptable solution for “oppressed” to liberate themselves from their “oppressors” and that this language is now Honored in many public institutions by those holding high ranking offices. If such racially charged language and the argument for “ethnic oppressor” extermination are now acceptable, then the fact that the Nazi’s used it against the Jews becomes a moot point, and thus only their deeds are relevant…not the ideology which is apparently acceptable in its tenants so long as aimed at the “right ethnic target.”