Friday, April 9, 2010
Exploring the Northern Tradition
Lately I have been taken in by Asatru, the worship of the Norse Gods. Odin is the father god and Frigga is his wife. Perhaps the most famous of the Gods are Thor and his mighty hammer. The Gods of Norse are numerous and many. Neo Paganism is coming on strong and Heathenism or the worship of North European Gods is the strongest movement.
Heathenism is often a misunderstood term. Many people think of savages or uncouth people with no civilization. Of course the opposite is true. The original heathens the viking had a very developed society and were very sophisticated.
The word Heathen is a definition for a very broad group of people. Not all Norse People worshiped the same God or Goddess yet they had the same mythology and same pantheon. The same holds true to day. Some people or very devoted to the Sky Gods while others are devoted to the Land Gods. Still others have devoted themselves to the Jotun or giants. Many heathens are not very accepting of the Jotun as they are enemies of the Gods. In the end of days there will be a final battle called Rokknagar.
Within the heathen community there are several fault lines that serve to divide the community. THe first fault line revolves around the debate between relying on strict observance of written material and the use of personal gnosis or visions from the Gods. Another fault line is folkish vs. Universal. The folkish believe that only those of Anglo-Saxon descent should bee following the ways of the old Norse God. The Universalist believe that anyone can worship the old Norse Gods. Theodish believe in a series of oath and recreating the community structure as it was of old.
This is an excellent book. It covers the mythology of how the world was created and a description of the various gods and what they did. On some of the Gods there was even a mention of a meditation that could be devoted to them. Before every god or Goddess is described there is a prayer that can be offering up to them.
Heathen do not consider themselves to be neo-pagans. One way they differentiate themselves is that they follow a warrior code. The Warrior code is summed up in nine principles. The principle are courage, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality , industrious, self reliance and perseverance. Many heathen live by the warrior eethic and study martial arts and firearms to live by that noble spirit. Many Heathen are also involved in the Military and law enforcement as it is honorable to protect your community. There is a big emphasis on honoring oath and honoring ones ancestors.
Within Heathenism there are several core concepts. The first one is Wyrd which can be roughly translated as your personal destiny. A lot goes into making your personal destiny. Your Wyrd is affected by your behavior and that of your ancestors and community.
Blots are celebrations or rituals that have a sacrifice which honor one of the Gods or Goddesses. Usually the area is spiritually cleansed and a deity invoked. Some times there is a sacrifice or feast depending on ones group. Another ritual is the Symbel which is to strengthen kindred ties in the group.
There is also a division of the soul. As well mention of the Holidays. There are several divisions of the soul. The first is the the Lik or the physical body. The Next soul part is the Aedem or divine breath. Odin gave mankind their breath. It is our breath that connects us to the divinities. The third is hamingja your personal luck. Next is Maegen Our vital force or Ki as the Japanese call it. The next one is our Willa this is how we focus our desires upon the world. The next two are intellect and memory. Memory is deemed more important than the intellect for it is the memory that connects us to our tribe and ancestors. Wod is or passion and Ecstasy, Fylgia our guardian spirits . Orlog is our personal destiny, Hama thee ethereal soul skin, We also have self consciousness.
This book is short and very comprehensive. there is a glossary in the back as well as suggested reading and a Bibliography.
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