As heathens, “we are our deeds.” When we do something, we are judged by the nature of our action and its results, rather than on our intentions, or our state of mind, or our emotional state. And in the simplest terms, Good is defined as what helps your family and loyal loved ones, while Bad is defined as what hurts your family and loyal loved ones.
Our ancestors didn’t spend a lot of time looking at intentions, or emotions, or state of mind. Why? Because they realized that what is REAL and what REALLY MATTERS are our actions and the impact those actions have on the real world.
This can be difficult for modern people raised in our modern culture to grasp. We are raised with this whole need to understand “why” someone did something. What were the root causes? What was he thinking? Did he mean for that to happen? How does he feel about what he has done? Add to this, a modern aversion to actually taking full responsibility for one’s actions, and it can be difficult to understand that for heathens, “we are our deeds.”
This comes into play in many situations, and the mistakes people make in this area come in many forms.
SELFISHNESS IS A HARD HABIT TO UNLEARN
Our ancestors had a rugged individuality, but they also understood that a man without kith and kin, was nothing. Literally nothing. There was no one to help him, no one to stand up for him or speak for him, and no one to take vengeance on his behalf. A man without kith and kin was alone, unprotected, and nothing.
So, one’s Innangarth was enormously important. At the center of this was a man’s family, and then his friends, and then his community. If a man’s actions helped this Innangarth, then the actions were Good. If a man’s actions hurt this Innangarth, then the actions were Bad.
But, as modern people, these bonds and connections with those around us have decayed quite a bit. Marriages don’t last. Extended family bonds are rare and getting rarer. Friends are temporary and often based on shallow bonds. We don’t know our neighbors, let alone anyone else in our community. And modern culture seems to encourage us to seek individual pleasure, fulfillment, and satisfaction over concerns for those we are most responsible for…
And this can result in selfish behavior. Breaking that modern habit, and learning to live with true consideration for one’s family, one’s tribe, and those closest to us is part of the culture reeducation that nearly all heathens must go through when come home to Heathernry. Some learn it and live it. And others aren’t so successful at it.
HAVING GOOD INTENTIONS DOESN’T FIX THE HARM YOU CAUSE
One reason that intentions just didn’t matter to our ancestors, was their close attention and need for Honor. If someone’s actions hurt or injured you or yours in some way, then your Honor had been taken from you. And that was an intolerable situation that had to be resolved. When one’s honor was taken, even in bits and pieces, it was not something you could just live with. You either took vengeance or the person that injured you must pay something to restore your Honor. The fact someone “did not intend” to hurt you or insult you, does not completely mitigate what they did or its affect on you.
Our modern world has forgotten Honor. People hurt or insult people accidentally, and then just shrug and say, “Oh…I didn’t mean to do that.” The fact remains that they hurt or insulted you, and that hurt or insult may have lasting effect. Accidents don’t matter. Intentions don’t matter. If you hurt or insult someone, and wish to make things good between you again, you must “fix what you broke.” It doesn’ matter if you meant to break it, you have to fix it.
It is only by fixing what you broke, that you can truly put the matter to rest. Have you ever hurt or insulted someone, apologized for it, and then a month or a year later had the event brought up again? That is because apologies are just words. They are simply a statement of regret, without any real action or steps taken to correct what you have done. And our ancestors understood, that it is deeds that matter…not words.
So, as heathens…we need to understand that intentions just don’t matter a whole lot. It is the actual actions you take, the results of your actions, and how those actions affect others that actually matters. And when we do something bad, claiming we had “good intentions” just doesn’t make it all better.
EMOTIONS ARE NOT AN EXCUSE FOR BAD BEHAVIOR
Modern culture is enormously tied up in emotion. Emotions, must like intentions, just don’t matter a lot when it comes to the things we do and how they affect other people.
For instance, let’s say a man has a wife and kids, but emotionally he’s detached from the relationship. He’s bored with his relationship, he’s feeling constrained and stagnant within his family, and he’s looking around at other women and thinking about leaving his wife.
From a heathen perspective, these emotions just don’t matter that much. If the man has emotional needs that aren’t being met, and decides to leave his family, that is a Bad act. Our ancestors wouldn’t have judged his act based on his emotional needs. They would have looked at what he did, and how that affects his Innangarth.
I have a friend come to me, in this exact circumstance…and he tried to make the case to me that he was entirely justified in leaving his wife and kids, because he “wasn’t in love anymore.” I told him, that from a heathen perspective…that wasn’t a good enough reason to leave his wife and kids, and disrupt his family. His oath and his responsibilities came first. Rather than making emotional and selfish decisions, he should be spending all of his time and energy working on his marriage, and finding that spark that he lost. And even if he never found that spark, he needed to fulfill his oath and fulfill his responsibilities to his kids to make his family work.
Emotions bring color to our lives. They are a part of life, and I am not saying emotions should be suppressed or ignored in our lives. I’m saying, that emotions are no excuse for Bad behavior, or that behavior that hurts our Innangarth. When you do something selfish, and hurt one’s own family, emotions do not give you a free pass.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO OUR DEEDS
It is your actions and deeds that matter. This is true in all things. And those actions and deeds are judged by how they affect your Innangarth. Your family, your close friends, and your kindred or tribe. And while emotions are an important part of who we are as humans, they are never a license to shirk one’s obligations and responsibilities, or an excuse for bad behavior.
Intentions are internal. You can intend to start a kindred, but until you do…your intentions just don’t matter a lot in the real world. You can have the best of intentions, but if you actions hurt someone…your intentions don’t fix the damage you have done. You can intend to get around to teaching your kids about heathenry, but intending to do something accomplishing nothing. It is the action leading from intention that actually affects and shapes the world.
Emotions are internal. You can love your daughter, but what she will really remember when you are gone are your actions. She’ll remember the times you read to her at bedtime, the hugs, the conversations you have with her, the advice you give, the assistance and protection you actively provide, the holding her hand in a scary movie, the time you spend comforting her when she has had a nightmare, and everything else you DO for her as a father or mother.
Even within our practice of Heathenry, it is our deeds that matter. You can have all the Faith in the world for our Gods, but what are you DOING? Do you honor them and gift them? Do you live openly as a heathen, explaining what heathenry is to those that would ask? Do you teach your children about our Ways? Do you meet and gather with other like minded heathens? Do you study and learn what you can, and help new heathens learn what you have learned? Do you lead a life, of which our Gods would be proud?
Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun’s Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods
Words like “historical” are often used to describe something one believs has happened.
History however is a term used for one of the soft sciences and in many cases “legendary” or “mythological” (witch are NOT synonyms either) would more amply apply.
For instance the Swedish royal house of Ynglinga is legendary.
Simply meaning that it MIGHT have existed but we have no attestations reliable enough to say for sure that it did.
That the God Frey has been a king of the Geats in todays Götaland, Sweden is also a legend. NOT mythology and not history either.
That the war ship Wasa existed and sank is history, since we have the ship (thus making it archeology too).
That people from todays Sweden went to todays Istanbul to work is history since we can prove it.
Mythology on the other hand has contents aiming to teach and enlighten.
That moses took the Hebrews out of Egypt would be legend if it wasnt for the miracles and the involvement of their God.
Thus, the stories about Jesus are mythology, about Robin Hood are legenda and about Julius Caesar history (generally speaking).
Naturally these three can cross ino eachother, terms, after all, are just terms.
NEITHER of these terms says weather something really happened or not or if the claims in question are “true”.
A myth or a legend can be as “true” as history (and history can prove itself faulty as more facts are found).
Robin Hood is considered legend. There where at least two men fighting the sheriff of Notingham, hiding in the Sherwood forest and robbing the rich named Robert Hode but as long as one (or even both) cant be clearly identified as the Robin Hood of the stories it remains legend, not history.
The same can be said about king Arthur who might have a base in one or several historical people (though most theories are crackpot hogwash, a few are sound).
In short - Freys role as king of what is now part of Sweden = legend.
That there where royal houses = history.
Freys role in the Aesir / Vanir wars = mythology.
Neither making any 100% claims to know weather the content took place or not.
Legend, typically, is a short (mono-) episodic, traditional, highly ecotypified historicized narrative performed in a conversational mode, reflecting on a psychological level a symbolic representation of folk belief and collective experiences and serving as a reaffirmation of commonly held values of the group to whose tradition it belongs.”
[ Timothy R. Tangherlini ]
Mythology,The term “myth” is often used colloquially to refer to a false story, but academic use of the term generally does not pass judgment on truth or falsity. In the study of folklore, a myth is a sacred narrative explaining how the world and humankind came to be in their present form.
The main characters in myths are usually gods or supernatural heroes. As sacred stories, myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests and closely linked to religion. In the society in which it is told, a myth is usually regarded as a true account of the remote past. In fact, many societies have two categories of traditional narrative, “true stories” or myths, and “false stories” or fables
Closely related to myth are legend and folktale. Myths, legends, and folktales are different types of traditional story.Unlike myths, folktales can take place at any time and any place, and they are not considered true or sacred by the societies that tell them. Like myths, legends are stories that are traditionally considered true, but are set in a more recent time, when the world was much as it is today. Legends generally feature humans as their main characters, whereas myths generally focus on superhuman characters.
History (from Greek ἱστορία - historia, meaning “inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation”) is the study of the human past. History can also mean the period of time AFTER writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians. It is a field of research which uses a narrative to examine and analyse the sequence of events, and it sometimes attempts to investigate objectively the patterns of cause and effect that determine events. Historians debate the nature of history and its usefulness. This includes discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing “perspective” on the problems of the present. The stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the legends surrounding King Arthur) are usually classified as cultural heritage rather than the “disinterested investigation” needed by the discipline of history. Events of the past prior to written record are considered prehistory.
Historians write in the context of their own time, and with due regard to the current dominant ideas of how to interpret the past, and sometimes write to provide lessons for their own society. In the words of Benedetto Croce, “All history is contemporary history”. History is facilitated by the formation of a ‘true discourse of past’ through the production of narrative and analysis of past events relating to the human race. The modern discipline of history is dedicated to the institutional production of this discourse.
All events that are remembered and preserved in some authentic form constitute the historical record. The task of historical discourse is to identify the sources which can most usefully contribute to the production of accurate accounts of past. Therefore, the constitution of the historian’s archive is a result of circumscribing a more general archive by invalidating the usage of certain texts and documents (by falsifying their claims to represent the ‘true past’).
Archaeology is a discipline that is especially helpful in dealing with buried sites and objects, which, once unearthed, contribute to the study of history. But archaeology rarely stands alone. It uses narrative sources to complement its discoveries. However, archaeology is constituted by a range of methodologies and approaches which are independent from history; that is to say, archaeology does not “fill the gaps” within textual sources. Indeed, Historical Archaeology is a specific branch of archaeology, often contrasting its conclusions against those of contemporary textual sources.
New Heathens almost always encounter other Heathens on-line first, prior to meeting actual Heathens face-to-face in real life. Based on the behavior of many of the Heathens you encounter on-line, it would be easy to falsely conclude that all heathens are angry, mean people who like to argue and belittle other people. One might mistakenly conclude that the biggest problem facing Heathenry are the “hoards and hoards of racist” people calling themselves Heathen. One might start to incorrectly believe that Heathernry can take place on the internet. One might falsely conclude that the Prose and Poetic Edda are basically the Heathen Bible. One might sadly conclude that there is only one-true-way within Heathenry, and we’re debating and working hard to develop and define that one-true-way.
As easy as it would be to come to these conclusions, all of these conclusions would be essentially false.
REAL HEATHENS ARE A GENEROUS AND HOSPITABLE PEOPLE
Our Heathen ancestors put great important on their own families and their own local communities. But they held generosity and hospitality as important strengths of a man’s character. A man who knew how to be a generous host, and how to treat his guests well, would earn himself great respect among his peers.
Modern Heathens focus on their families and their kindred, living in Frith and cooperation within their trusted Innangarth, or trusted inner circle. While focus closely on family, kindred, and friends, they also understand the importance of extending hospitality to heathens traveling through or visiting their local area or kindred.
A man’s reputation, or Gefrain, is based on his deeds, how much he accomplishes, his generosity, his hospitality, and his honor. There is nothing about Asatru or Heathenry that encourages meaningless anger or pointless confrontations. But,on-line Heathenry is rife with keyboard cowboys that seem to delight in tearing other people down, name-calling, and being as confrontational as possible. This says much more about the nature of the internet and the nature of these people, than it has to do with Heathenry itself.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF HEATHENS ARE PROUD OF THEIR ANCESTORS
Heathens are proud of their history, their culture, and their ancestors. We feel that we share a connection with our ancestors by blood, by culture, and by Orlog, a part of the Heathen soul that is passed from parent to child. This pride is a positive pride, and does not involve hatred for other cultures or a need to tear other cultures down in favor of our own.
Some mistake this positive pride as somehow being “racist.” You’ll find that most “Folkish” Heathens don’t even use the word “Race,” in reference to their beliefs…because pride in one’s ancestors is not about “Race.” This on-going “racist” debate and name-calling is decades old within Heathenry, and has gotten us no where. It is an enormous distraction from anything constructive and positive. It should be noted, that this “racist” debate, is almost exclusively something that takes place on-line. It is an internet phenomenon, and utterly pointless.
Racism is not specifically a Heathen problem. Racism is not the problem of any one particular group. There are Racists within every religion. Christian Racists. Muslim Racists. Jewish Racists. Hindu Racists. Even Wiccan Racists.
Jotun’s Bane Kindred has been to scores of face-to-face heathen gatherings. The topic of “Race” or “Racism” never comes up at these gatherings, and is a complete non-issue within real Heathenry. It is only on-line that self-appointed “crusaders,” harp on this topic constantly. In so doing, they give the issue more time and attention that it deserves. Listening to these proverbial “Chicken Littles” on-line, one would think that Racism was a major problem within Heathenry…and that the sky is falling. I doubt they realize it, but their constant feeding and attention of this non-issue, gives this non-existent internet bogey-man a life of its own.
Rather than running about telling people what we aren’t, we should be focusing our time on telling people who we are, and why. We should explain why we honor our ancestors, and how important they are to us. What few “racist” Heathens there are, cease to have any real impact when we ignore and shun them as a topic, and focus our time and energy on moving forward.
REAL HEATHENRY TAKES PLACE FACE-TO-FACE
Real Heathenry is about community, gathering as a people, shaking a man or woman’s hand, looking them in the eye, hearing their voice, telling stories, getting to know each other. Its letting your kids play together. Letting your spouses get to know each other. Its about laughing at dumb jokes, and telling stories from your life. Its about mingling Wyrd…and taking the measure of another person, and finding them of worth.
Real Heathenry is about actually DOING something. Reading, scholarship, communication, discussing various beliefs, and even debating approaches to our Folkway are important. But, we are our deeds. What have you done? What are you doing? What will you do?
Starting, growing, and maintaining kindreds is a way of bringing Heathenry home. You build close-knit bonds of Frith with other Heathens that then become part of your Innangarth, or trusted inner circle. Gathering with other Heathens and living in Frith with them, allows for collective Luck to be built, and for great things to be accomplished. Our children get to know and play with other Heathen children. And we establish Heathen communities that draw other members of our Folk home to their ancestral Folkway.
These things can only happen face-to-face. We should never mistake internet interactions and acquaintances as “real.” They are just pixels on a screen, and these pixels flicker out when the machine is unplugged.
THE POETIC EDDA AND PROSE EDDA ARE HISTORICAL TEXTS
The Poetic Edda and Prose Edda are both historical texts, written by men. Both texts were actually written down by Christian men. The Poetic Edda was an attempt by Christians to record in writing the old poetry of their oral storytelling culture. The Poetic Edda was written by Snori Sturleson in order to preserve enough knowledge about Norse mythology and the meanings of poetic kennings, to preserve the poetry forms of the North. Heathens understand that these books are not “the word” of our Gods.
We include the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda among our Lore, a collection of primary sources we look to for information about the religion, ways, and world-view of our ancestors. We also include among this Lore, the Icelandic Sagas, Beowulf, and other contemporary writings of the time. But none of these books are “scripture.”
But you will encounter Heathens that read the poetry recorded in the Poetic Edda as scripture. They will quote it, and interpret it as literal truth, without any critical thought as to how and when they were recorded, and by whom. They quote information in the Prose Edda, as if what Snori Sturleson wrote is exactly what all Heathens thorughout history believed of our Gods and Goddesses, and the Nine Worlds. Yes, information from both the Poetic and Prose Eddas is important and well worth considering. But both sources are the works of men, and not the works of our Gods.
Other religions have their Holy Books, which they proclaim are the direct “Word” of their god. But our Heathen ancestors did not have a written tradition, nor a holy book. And modern Heathens also do not have a holy book.
TRIBAL VARIANCES ARE ACKNOWLEDGED AND EXPECTED
The ways of our Ancestors varied greatly from tribe to tribe, location to location, century to century, and even among various levels of society. The same situation exists today within modern Heathenry. There was no “one-true-way” among our ancestors and there is no “one-true-way among modern Heathens. We live in different regions, we have different backgrounds and upbringings, we have different life experiences, different personalities, different interests, and different ways of interpreting things we read and learn.
One of the great strengths of grassroots, local kindred-based, tribal heathenry is the understanding among various tribes that they can have unity of purpose and work together, without having unified beliefs or practices.
But, you will encounter Asatruars and Heathens who feel they are right, and everyone else is dreadfully wrong. Heathens who believe that the goal of the Reconstruction of our ancestral Folkway, is to rediscover the “one-true-way” of our ancestors. These Asatruars and Heathens debate angrily over details, denigrating and insulting all those that do things differently than they do, and they seem completely oblivious to the fact that the never was “one-true-way” of Heathenry.
When you look at the behavior of these elitists who insist there was one-true-way, and that they specifically are the ones that have found it, and that everyone else is wrong…does it not feel eerily familiar of the desert faiths, with their one-true-way?
Our ancestors did not act in this way, and I’m always amazed when people who claim to be the most well-read and learned among us, act in a way that is so contrary to how our ancestors would have approached their own ancestral Folkway.
BEST WAY TO CLEAR UP MISCONCEPTIONS
The best way to clear up these internet-oriented misconceptions is to meet or gather with other heathens face-to-face. If there is a kindred or tribe within traveling distance of where you live, arranged to visit them or attend one of their meetings. If there is no kindred or tribe within traveling distance, do some research on Heathen Gatherings…and attend one. There is nothing like meeting with or gathering with other heathens, to give you better insight into the reality of Heathenry…rather than what lurks in the internet shadows.
Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun’s Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods
In Norse mythology, Verðandi (Old Norse, meaning possibly “happening” or “present”), sometimes anglicized as Verdandi or Verthandi, is one of the norns. Along with Urðr (Old Norse ”fate”) and Skuld (possibly “debt” or “future”), Verðandi makes up a trio of Norns that are described as deciding the fates (wyrd) of people.
“Nornir” (ca. 1884) by J.L. Lund, depicting Verðandi with wings. Völuspá
Urðr is one of the Norns in Norse mythology.) Along with Verðandi (possibly “happening” or “present”) and Skuld (possibly “debt” or “future”), Urðr makes up a trio of Norns that are described as deciding the fates of people. Urðr is attested in stanza 20 of the Poetic Eddapoem Völuspá and the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning.
Urðr is together with the Norns located at the well Urdarbrunn beneath the world ash tree Yggdrasil of Asgard. They spin threads of life, cut marks in the pole figures and measure people’s destinies, which shows the fate of all human beings and gods. Nornes are always present when a child is born and decide its fate. The three Norns represent the past (Urðr), future (Skuld) and present (Verðandi).
Urðr is commonly written as Urd or Urth. In some English translations, her name is glossed with the Old English form of urðr; Wyrd.
Skuld (the name possibly means “debt” or “future”) is a Norn in Norse mythology. Along with Urðr (Old Norse ”fate”) and Verðandi(possibly “happening” or “present”), Skuld makes up a trio of Norns that are described as deciding the fates of people. Skuld appears in at least two poems as a Valkyrie.
…and the youngest Norn, she who is called Skuld, ride ever to take the slain and decide fights…Faroe stamp by Anker Eli Petersen depicting the norns (2003). Skuld is mentioned in Völuspá, a poem collected in the 13th century Poetic Edda: Sá hon valkyrjurvítt um komnar,görvar at ríðatil Goðþjóðar.Skuld helt skildi,en Skögul önnur,Gunnr, Hildr, Göndulok Geirskögul.
She is also mentioned in Nafnaþulur She saw valkyriescome from far and wide,ready to rideto Goðþjóð.Skuld held a shield,and Skögul was another,Gunnr, Hildr, Gönduland Geirskögul.
Pictures from Le Mans. The city was raided by Vikings in the years 865, 866, and 869.
The city now celebrates by placing Christmas lights along the river that are made to look like Viking ships and warriors. The bridges are decorated with lit shields and moving lights that look like oars.
Photos taken on 19 December 2009.
From Old Norse ’awful, great winter’. The prefix “fimbul” means “the great/big” so the correct interpretation of the word is “the great winter”
Fimbulvetr is the harsh winter that precedes the end of the world and puts an end to all life on Earth. Fimbulwinter is three successive winters where snow comes in from all directions, without any intervening summer. During this time, there will be innumerable wars and brothers will kill brothers.
The event is described primarily in the Poetic Edda. In the poem Vafþrúðnismál, Odin poses the question to Vafþrúðnir as to who of mankind will survive the Fimbulwinter. Vafþrúðnir responds that Líf and Lífþrasir will survive and that they will live in the forest of Hoddmímis holt.
This mythology might be related to the extreme weather events of 535–536 which resulted in a notable drop in temperature across northern Europe. There have also been several popular ideas about whether or not this particular piece of mythology has a connection to the climate change that occurred in the Nordic countries at the end of the Nordic Bronze Age dating from about 650 BC. Before this climate change, the Nordic countries were considerably warmer.In Denmark, Norway, Sweden and other Nordic countries, the term fimbulvinter is still used to refer to an unusually cold and harsh winter.
(As a personal note, being Swedish, that is true. We are having a Fimbulvinter right now.
“Vargavinter” (wolves winter) is another expression here).