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Gunnarr
13 Oct 2011, 00:02
I posted this in another thread on this forum but it will give an overview of me and my religion.

Heathenry is simply the veneration of our ancestors, the Regin and vaettir . I think it’s important at this point to state that having a personal deity or having a personal relationship with a deity is a modern construct, it would be more appropriate and in keeping with our heathen ancestors to be part of a cult, not a cult in the modern sense. Cult centres were common in pre-christian times, the leader of the tribe carried the communal luck gifted by the Regin, he led rituals and presided over feasts. He was the link to the Regin and it is written that he would claim direct lineage to them. Obviously the members of the tribe had their favoured god or goddess but there is no evidence to suggest that they warranted the attention of the Regin.

The basis of the rites are taken from the primary sources available and are adapted to suit our modern times, some practices such as human sacrifice are no longer acceptable to the modern world, although we should attempt to stick as closely to the script as possible. There is an Asatru calender available on the internet giving dates for heathen celebration days, however, this is again a modern construct, what we know from the primary sources is that there was definitely three blot times. Heathenry is no longer solely being fronted by neo-pagan groups but by a new breed of hearths and kindreds who fall under the reconstructionist approach. The main difference between neo-pagan and reconstructionism is that their roots are not the same, whereas the neo-pagans are rooted with Wiccan and Christian influence, reconstructionism takes it’s influences directly from the heathen past. To some that has no bearing, to others it makes the world of difference, to me it is the difference.

Heathenry is a community based religion, in these modern times it is accepted that there are heathens who live a long distance away from other heathens, but traditionally the strength of a tribe was it’s sum, working in unison for the common goal, whether that was farming or fighting, etc. In these modern times we live in a very selfish world, community is being eroded away, individuality in the extreme sense is polluting our worldview. Take a quick look on Facebook to see which friends have an over inflated opinion of themselves, these self-obsessed people concern their happiness far ahead of others, as heathens we should see it differently. Heathenry is an ethnic religion based on locality not a modular religion such as Christianity, Bil Linzie explains this better:


Quote:
‘Religion’ in our modern sense of the word, is an ideal divorced from culture, from landscape, from language, and from worldview. A term which I have often used in the past is ‘modular religion’ as opposed to ‘ethnic religion.’ A modular religion is a religion which can be easily imported and exported across cultural boundaries. The most common modern example of a modular religion is Christianity… The concept is completely self-contained, essentially, complete with it’s own rules, laws, axioms, and corollaries, i.e. a module. A modular religion stands in direct contrast to an ethnic religion such as the indigenous religions of Africa, Australia, Alaska, and Greenland. Anthropologists over the past 150 years have been entertained, fascinated, and frustrated by how closely bound religion-culture-worldview in these regions are to landscape-occupation-environment.’

Bil Linzie – Reconstructionism’s Role in Modern Heathenry

What I am trying to achieve with my hearth is this, when heathenry within the locality of the five boroughs died out there was a certain way the Anglo Scandinavians practiced their ancestral veneration, I am trying to at least put into practice the approach my ancestors would have used when it was last practiced, as if it never went away, to do this I have to use what is available from that last moment to reconstruct. By starting back from our ancestors finish point we have a healthy chance of a realistic evolution of heathenry, rather than an assumed evolution because people say are ancestors would have moved on.

Dez
13 Oct 2011, 06:26
Interesting.

Alright...How do you deal with the fact that all of your main texts are post Christianity? How do you take into account any ways that they might have been influenced by that culture, and therefore not an accurate representation of the culture and values a few hundred years previously? What brought you, personally, to this choice of path?

If I read your post correctly, what you are saying is that ideally, heathen society would be made up of locations in which small, closely knit groups made up of families are led by a Regin--is that accurate? If so, how does one become a Regin?

Do you view the gods as being real, living, beings, or simply in a symbolic role? If the former, how do you believe they have changed over the past fifteen hundred years? Are they capable of change in response to modern times, or would they only be responsive to imitation of one's ancestors? Do you feel it's impossible to be told to do something by the Gods, or have any form of interaction? If so, why do you chose a path with figurehead gods? If not, then isn't that a personal relationship of a kind? Does a Regin have power to speak on behalf of the gods, or other authority normal members of the group are not considered to have? Do you believe the Gods care how they are worshiped, so long as they are again recognized? What about crossover between groups, for example, the similarities between Thor and the Slavic god Perun? What did the Norse borrow from other cultures?

Is your practice solely based on what is known about the areas now known as Sweden and Denmark, or do you also pay attention to Germanic peoples? What about Greenland and Iceland? What do you think of the developing pagan practices of those who live in those nations? Since their ancestors did not transfer elsewhere, are their interpretations more pure? What about the influence of other local tribal groups, such as the Slavic peoples, Celts, and Sami?

What is your view of the role of women in a modern family unit and larger group? How would you respond if your children grew up and decided this wasn't for them, choosing another path instead?

I'm not much of a fan of the Asatru calendar, either, what is your suggested alternative? If, based on the quote you use, landscape is and integral part of faith, then as an American transplant, wouldn't it be appropriate for you to pay respects to the Native gods tied to your local area as well? It is, after all, their land, not that of your gods.

Edit: I apologize...for whatever reason I missed that you are in the UK, rather then American! I just realized looking at the link you have to your hearth. I'd like to adjust what I asked accordingly...obviously, while your ancestors were still transplants, they weren't to the degree mine were!

Gunnarr
13 Oct 2011, 12:21
Firstly in I do not call it a path, may have done in the past but something that is as big as my religiosity can not be as narrow as a path. Most texts were written after the awareness of Christianity, I do not say the impact of Christianity as there would at least take another two to four generations for that impact to occur. Historians argue that it was an even greater time frame again,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianization_of_Scandinavia

Specifically here are some events in a sort of timeline, the dates for country's are known dates of royal conversion, which I think we can agree is not the people themselves.
Tacitus,-Germania 98 A.D.
Christianization of Anglo-Saxon England 655 A.D.,-Death of King Penda (recognized as the last heathen Chieftain)
Bede, Died 735A.D.-An Ecclesiastical History of the English People
Ibn Fadlan,-A journal written on his contact with the Rus 922A.D.
Christianization of Norway 947 A.D.
Christianization of Denmark 983 A.D.,
Christianization of Iceland 1000 A.D.,-Documented from the Alting
Christianization of Sweden 1000-1060 A.D.
Saxo Grammaticus 1150-1220
Gesta Danorum (History of the Danes)
Christianization of Finland 12th/13th Century (Loose date due to failure)
Codex Regius,-55 vellum pages dating from the early 14th century

In 1721, a new Danish colony was started in Greenland with the objective of converting the inhabitants to Christianity.

There are also a large amount of Sagas from the lives of people whose lives crossed the recorded history of Scandinavia, Grettir, Njal and Egil, to name a few, there dealings with the Althing are recorded.

So it is simplistic to say that all the words are from Christians, as it would be for me to say they are all from heathens. What I can say is there are very educated people out there, Historians and Archeologists that have written up there work for all to read, Rudolph Simek, Paul Belloni Du Chaillu, R I Page, Stephen Pollington, Jon Hnefill Adalsteinson, John Lindow, H R Ellis-Davidson, P G Foote and D A Wilson and Brian Bates to name a few books that are in my book hoard.

What brought me to this Religion was my study and my ability to evolve as my knowledge grew. I started into Norse Mythology in 1985 as a 19 year old, from there it has been busy on and off ever since. Sometimes my frustration at people's eclecticism gets the better of me, I just do not want them making the same mistake's as I did and spend years looking. I forget that the journey they are on is a personal one.

Heathen society for me would only engage people on a religious level, politics is for scum bags. A more heathen way would be those that represent people in positions of trust and authority have accountability to the people at a local level, that is as an individual not their party affiliation level as it is, people politics not party.

I view the Regin as my ancestors, their deeds were a part of an oral story telling folk tradition, handed down father to son, and eventually recorded. My hearth is an Anglo Scandinavian hearth. I believe we are the first hearth in the world to use that phrase to describe ourselves. We reconstruct our hearth from our locality in England, where our hearth is on the Danelaw line, both a Norse and Anglo Scandinavian locality of customs and laws .

The Indoctrination of any free thinking person into a religion is in my opinion wrong, my own daughter who is fifteen is 'no denomination', she is aware of aspects of religion from heathenry to Christianity.

One aspect I have not mentioned is the veneration of the Vaettir (land spirits), this is an aspect of heathenry that is bound by locality.

Dez
13 Oct 2011, 14:00
Thank you for such a thoughtful response, Gunnarr...I think I'll have some more questions in a bit, but I want to make sure I have absorbed and understood what you answered already first.

Ophidia
13 Oct 2011, 16:44
Does Heathenry have any gender-specific roles? Do you find that Heathen-practicing men are more well-represented in media and research (as in, are there any notable vocal women?), or is there a balance? If it is preponderantly male or female, why do you feel the imbalance exists?

Lastly, what is the Heathen stance on homosexuality?

Gunnarr
13 Oct 2011, 17:10
I think that women in heathenry are an important aspect, You have to look though, in Laxdaela saga, there is a great part of the Saga about a very successful Lady called Aud Ketilsdóttir, heres two links that give a view on both, buy the saga for the full impact.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laxd%C5%93la_saga

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aud_the_Deep-Minded

I am not the biggest fan of Wikipedia but there articles for the beginner are good.


For a real view of women try these, I posted them on anther thread but they do as well here, hope you purchase one.


Judith Jesch/ Women in the Viking Age, http://www.amazon.com/Women-Viking-A.../dp/0851153607

Jenny Jochens/ Women Norse Society, http://www.amazon.com/Women-Norse-So...d_bxgy_b_img_b

Both are fantastic books, and will be an asset, to any hoard.

I agree there is an imbalance but Reconstructionist groups are bringing some of that back by focusing on the known, not the mans aspiration to be a Viking berserkr king, who types in the week and swings a sword to scare children on weekends, if you know what I mean.

The Heathen stance on Homosexuality, varies from group to group, most decent heathen groups will have no problem with anybody's sexual preference, there is no evidential texts in my opinion to support any ideology of it also being a problem for our ancestors. The one text folk like to quote is Lokasenna, a flyting where traditionally men insult and question ones manliness, prowess and ability. Yet there quick to ignore Thor dressed as a women trying to regain his hammer.

My personal view is for my hearth, no problems it is nothing to do with ones religion, character, manliness or ability

Dez
13 Oct 2011, 17:53
Reading back through, it's obvious that when I read your OP, I misunderstood the role of Regin, taking it for a position of authority within the group, rather then a form of ancestor reverence(obviously, not a term I recall hearing before, just the name from the Fafner story). Could you tell us more about this?

Tylluan Penry
14 Oct 2011, 01:44
"Specifically here are some events in a sort of timeline, the dates for country's are known dates of royal conversion, which I think we can agree is not the people themselves." This is a very well observed point, Gunarr, and unfortunately earlier scholars (especialloy in the 19th century) seemed to take a Royal conversion as being 'proof' that all the people also converted. In fact, close reading of people like Bede shows this was very far from being the case. Nor was conversion a single direction process. Sometimes kings would convert and their sons would be apostates, reverting quickly back to their ancestors' faith (well, in England, anyway.)

One point that is important to make about the Anglo-Saxons (and I know they're not your primary point of interest, but I'll make the point anyway ;)) is that they were an orally based society. Everything written about them was written post conversion or by Christians. This certainly gives reconstructionists a bit of a headache, although there are plenty of clues about heathenism if we look for them. :)

Gunnarr
14 Oct 2011, 05:47
Reading back through, it's obvious that when I read your OP, I misunderstood the role of Regin, taking it for a position of authority within the group, rather then a form of ancestor reverence(obviously, not a term I recall hearing before, just the name from the Fafner story). Could you tell us more about this?

The term 'Regin' translation means 'gods' , but as in 'the advising ones' according to Rudolph Simek

It is a term that has always been there, but the translation was just that a translation, (To understand our ancestors construct of the word was the real breakthrough, when it was cross referenced with other works you begin to see a bigger picture)

some examples,

(ON = Old Norse)

In Voluspá 65, it has Regindòmr (ON, sentence, court of the gods).

In Grímnismál 36, it has Reginleif, (ON, Daughter of the gods), the name is
one of the thirteen valkyries.

In old norse literature there are two mentions, both to the same word 'reginnalgar' (ON, gods-nails),
mentioned in Eyrbyggja Saga 4 written in 1250 A.D., it is mentioned in relation to pillars of the high seat.
In the much older Glælognskviða written in 1032 A.D., It was also used in the term regingaddi (ON, gods sting), reading the text gives a greater picture but for this post the relationship and familiar usage by different sources gives credibility.

The possible confusion for me comes from the fact that it is also a name, but in our ancestors time the name would be 'Reginn' (ON, Mighty One), named for the dwarf in Voluspá 12, and the Foster father of Sigurð, mentioned in both reginsmál and fáfnismál.

Physical evidence is available on the Swedish runestone called from Fyrunga which dates from c. 600A.D., the word raginakuðo, it is used especially where gods come together.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noleby_Runestone

Why use the term, well before it was common to call them the 'gods of the Æsir and the Vanir, but there is a lot of doubt to lack of evidence in text and rune stones that the vanir existed at all. By encompassing the ancient ancestors as regin, we honour all.

---------- Post added at 02:47 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:39 PM ----------

Tylluan,

I mentioned that in my post about the oral tradition, it is important though, that 'chinese whispers' is not really as big an impact on our ancestors oral tradition as some would think, in my opinion. My reasoning is this, father telling his story on numerous nights to his family, an example is knowing a song, you here a song enough times you can sing along word for word. Our ancestors songs were the storys of people and deeds.

I think that means we agree.

Tylluan Penry
14 Oct 2011, 09:21
[/COLOR]Tylluan,

I mentioned that in my post about the oral tradition, it is important though, that 'chinese whispers' is not really as big an impact on our ancestors oral tradition as some would think, in my opinion. My reasoning is this, father telling his story on numerous nights to his family, an example is knowing a song, you here a song enough times you can sing along word for word. Our ancestors songs were the storys of people and deeds.

I think that means we agree.

Absolutely - the biggest problem with an oral tradition was that it became relatively easy for another, literary tradition, to stamp all over it. You see this even today when some scholars (mentioning no names ;)) seem to take the view that unless something was written down it could never have happened!

Oral traditions were surprisingly accurate purveyors of knowledge and tradition. This was because they relied upon word of mouth and because there was training in remembering and recitation skills. When you know you can fall back upon looking something up, you tend not to make the effort to remember. (I know I do, anyway).

Ophidia
14 Oct 2011, 17:40
I think that women in heathenry are an important aspect
I noticed, from both of the wiki articles and reading some of the cited papers, that there was consistent agreement that men wrote most of the sagas - and many of the best-known ones were written post-conversion to Christianity. I've just noticed that this seems to be true today, too. On the Pagan sites I've visited, most of the articles I see are by men. The most vocal Heathens/Norse-centric Pagans on forums are usually men. The practitioners I've met and worked with personally have all been men. It's just strange to me, especially considering how appealing most Pagan/neo-Pagan paths are to women.


The Heathen stance on Homosexuality, varies from group to group, most decent heathen groups will have no problem with anybody's sexual preference, there is no evidential texts in my opinion to support any ideology of it also being a problem for our ancestors. The one text folk like to quote is Lokasenna, a flyting where traditionally men insult and question ones manliness, prowess and ability. Yet they're quick to ignore Thor dressed as a women trying to regain his hammer.

My personal view is for my hearth, no problems it is nothing to do with ones religion, character, manliness or ability

I was curious about the homosexuality thing because I've met several Asatruar who are very vocal anti-gay-rights activists, and often refer back to their religion as a basis for their stance. I wasn't sure if it was a universal belief, or if it was more along the line of white supremacists giving heathenry a bad name.

Thank you for your answers :)

Gunnarr
21 Oct 2011, 12:11
There is a male bias, in both written work and practice.

Written work being predominantly male is historical, most religions with any legitimate longevity will have this.

Modern issues about heathenry really stem back to Neo pagans reinventing the belief system to make it more attractive to people. When people take a look at heathenry, most choose the fluffy neo pagan approach over what their ancestors did, simply because neo paganism is Christianity for polytheists, so far less work is required for transition.

The question in regards to homosexuality was a loaded question, as you have already an informed opinion. Once again I would say that those heathens you know are more like neo pagans under an Asatru banner, or it could just be their individual hearths customs.

Ophidia
21 Oct 2011, 14:10
The question in regards to homosexuality was a loaded question, as you have already an informed opinion. Once again I would say that those heathens you know are more like neo pagans under an Asatru banner, or it could just be their individual hearths customs.

I don't consider it 'loaded' as I'm not trying to trap anyone, I'm just honestly curious about different takes on some of the more incendiary topics, like homosexuality, abortion, the death penalty, etc. It gives me a broad spectrum of the various morals and ethics people have where the lines between the sacred & the secular cross. Many people make the mistake of thinking one person can represent an entire religion, and forget that there are extremists wherever you go. I've met Southern Baptists who are perfectly ok w/homosexuals and Wiccans who freak out about it, just like I've met Jehovah's Witnesses who are ok w/abortions & hard-core Dianic feminists who aren't.

Gunnarr
21 Oct 2011, 15:43
Point made and accepted, with a smile.

Yazichestvo
23 Oct 2011, 23:34
I noticed, from both of the wiki articles and reading some of the cited papers, that there was consistent agreement that men wrote most of the sagas - and many of the best-known ones were written post-conversion to Christianity. I've just noticed that this seems to be true today, too. On the Pagan sites I've visited, most of the articles I see are by men. The most vocal Heathens/Norse-centric Pagans on forums are usually men. The practitioners I've met and worked with personally have all been men. It's just strange to me, especially considering how appealing most Pagan/neo-Pagan paths are to women.



I was curious about the homosexuality thing because I've met several Asatruar who are very vocal anti-gay-rights activists, and often refer back to their religion as a basis for their stance. I wasn't sure if it was a universal belief, or if it was more along the line of white supremacists giving heathenry a bad name.

Thank you for your answers :)

It's funny you should mention that. At my university, there is a pagan group, and almost all of them are witches or Wiccans who are either female, or gay men. To date, there have been three straight men who have been heavily involved, including myself- and all three have been had reconstructionist tendencies. One followed Asatru, the other was a Celtic Polytheist, and then of course there is myself. So I would agree, there seems to be a definite correlation between gender- and I would add- sexuality.