You’re Not Going to Valhalla, So Knock it Off.

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I don’t write very much about religion, especially mine.  Most people who know me know that I consider myself a Heathen but I don’t make a big deal over it.  I don’t blot with a kindred, I don’t observe many holidays, and I rarely pray or participate in rituals.  You know what I do?  I read.  I participate in several online forums where the information flies forth like limitless mead.  One discussion on one part of the Hávamál can easily wipe out three hours of time that could probably better be spent actually doing things around the house that needs to be done.  But, that’s what many Heathens do once we get past the Hail-storm.  You know, whenever someone even mentions Odin the hail starts flying.  Alright, we got it.  You really like Odin.

When I first started down this path I wasn’t much different.  It was all Viking metal, horns full of inebriating substances, lots of hails, calling on the gods as if they were neighbors in my trailer park.  Sign of the hammer, that was a good one.  How a person raised Roman Catholic didn’t put THAT one together is beyond me.  But- all newbies trip and stumble.  We walk in with our eyes wide open.  We all follow those who went before us and sometimes we walk right into a tree.  The trouble is, most people don’t ever get past that point, and they simply superimpose Norse mythology onto, in most cases, Christian premises.

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One of the biggest examples of this is the concept of Valhalla.  Simply put, if a person dies honorably in battle, a Valkyrie may appear and carry them off to Asgard where they will spend the rest of time in Valhalla.  Each day they will train for Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods, by fighting, killing, and being slain, only to be resurrected at the day’s end to feast and celebrate with Odin in his great hall.  Sounds great, right?  Personally, I don’t think I would want to die over and over again… it’s a bit Promethean if you ask me.  But, my own opinion aside- ask yourself this:  Doesn’t this sound exactly like what most other religions say about martyrdom?  How many people who think they’re Valhalla-bound scoff at fundamentalist Muslims who believe that if they die in jihad, they will spend eternity in paradise with 72 virgins?  That doesn’t sound appealing either, virgins just won’t be good in bed, and 72?  Nevermind, I am off injecting logic into what is clearly a ridiculous concept.

As is the idea of dying and going to Valhalla. (Yes, I am using Wikipedia for basic definitions of things we can agree on, this is not meant to be a dissertation).

I hate to be the one to break this to a LOT of Brosatruars wearing hammers around their necks lifting weights to Amon Amarth, but you’re not going to Valhalla.  There are many reasons but let’s start with the first- why would you take that tale, or ANY tale from any ancient religion, in a literal context?  And, as a Heathen or Asatruar or even Odinist, how can you NOT see the parallels to the Abrahamic reward-based faiths?  That if you live this way or die that way, here is your eternal reward?  How can you not realize that  kings and lords and generals have always used religious fervor to inspire their warriors, especially when the odds were against them?  Maybe dying isn’t so bad if I can take as many of the enemy with me and earn a spot in Valhalla.  Believing in these things as a literal truth allowed those warriors to ease their fears of being hacked to pieces and left for the ravens.

There are other issues around the myth of Valhalla that need to be deconstructed too.  I’ve seen a lot of people lawyering about, saying things like, “well, in these days, overcoming ANY personal struggle can lead to Valhalla”.  “If I die defending someone I love, the gods will choose me”.  “If I live according to the Nine Noble Virtues, I can get in”.  Or, “Sorry, even if you were a great soldier, if you live to old age and die peacefully surrounded by your family, you won’t get into Valhalla”.  Before I tackle these, allow me a moment to smack my forehead against a stone wall.

There.  Now I feel a little better.

1.  Overcoming any significant challenge is the same as dying in battle.  No, it’s not.  It may be a significant victory, or, should you bravely fight cancer and succumb, how you fought the illness might be looked at with favor by your family, your ancestors, maybe even the gods.  But, nonetheless, it is NOT the same as being hacked to pieces while fighting tenaciously and honorably.

2.  If I die defending someone I love, the gods will choose me.  Not likely, unless you are already a skilled warrior who the gods want fighting at their side.  *I* could die defending my friends and family, maybe even take out one or two attackers in the process, but I’m not a trained fighter.  I am just okay with a sword.  I haven’t fired a gun since I was a teenager.  And, I hate fighting.  Valor alone does not make the cut.  Think about it, the number of Einhejrar in Valhalla is not limitless, and do you not agree that Odin would want the absolute best of the best riding alongside him into battle?  This goes double for the Facebookatru whose battles consist of arguing with other Heathens, hailing every image with a Mjolnir in it, and posting memes about honoring the gods while not really doing much to honor them.  Ask yourself honestly if you meet the criteria of being one of the best warriors in all of history, then you can talk about Valhalla.

3.  If I live according to the Nine Noble Virtues…  look, the Nine Noble Virtues are not the Ten Commandments.  They are not some sort of Heathen orthodoxy.  For those of your not familiar, the NNV are: Courage, Truth, Honor, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Self-Reliance, Industriousness, and Perseverance.  They’re not bad things to strive for, but they are not unique to Heathenry.  You can find most of them tacked up on a wall in any Karate studio in almost every strip mall in the country.  Many religions and philosophies teach these things as good and desirable because they generally lead to self-improvement, but simply adopting this as some type of rigid code isn’t what gets you chosen for Valhalla.

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4.  Even if you were a great soldier, if you live to old age and die peacefully surrounded by your family, you won’t get into Valhalla  There is a concept called the ‘straw death’ in which it’s seen as weak to go out of this life sick and bedridden, that it’s somehow more noble to die in a battle.  Back then, warriors who knew they were ill and dying would simply go into the first battle they could and take a sword through the heart.  Hey, it beats lingering around, puking and shitting all over the place until you expire in a pile of your own stench, right?  That’s why today, people are fighting for the right to assisted suicide, so they don’t have to spend their last days in agony, or worse.  However, let’s say you were once a great warrior who didn’t die in a battle.  You instead helped bring about a time of peace and prosperity to your land.  Your exploits were heralded and known throughout, but- by sheer luck, you get sick and die in your old age surrounded by your family.  No Valhalla?

So a guy with zero military training dies with valor defending someone he loves and gets in, but a seasoned veteran whose skill and knowledge of warfare eclipses that of many, nope, didn’t die in a battle.  That’s legit?

Do you really think Odin, who is also the god of wisdom, would see it that way?  Even with one eye?  C’mon.

But this all goes to the greater picture.  Too many of us are hung up on this idea of going to Valhalla when we die.  Why?  I asked myself one day if that was where I wanted to be and when I thought about it, I mean really, really thought about it- I said no.  If there is a life beyond this one, I don’t want to spend it fighting petty battles.  And yes, Ragnarok is petty, but that’s another topic.  According to the mythology there are many halls in Asgard, and there are eight other realms among the nine worlds.  If, like me, you don’t believe in this cosmology, there is infinite space, billions of galaxies, dimensions and other universes.  Is Valhalla really it?  Is there not something much, much bigger out there?  Dare to dream, folks.  Don’t stop seeking knowledge, and for the good of Heathenry in general, let’s drop the macho bullshit.

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74 thoughts on “You’re Not Going to Valhalla, So Knock it Off.

  1. If you don’t mind my asking, which online forums do you prefer for discussing Asatru and heathenry? I’ve been trying to learn more about this religion, but it’s been something akin to feeling my way around a maze in the dark, thus far.

    1. It can be hard to find a good one. I mostly stick to the Facebook groups because message boards can usually become quite isolated in terms of uniform ideology, whereas with the groups, it’s easier to find people who know what they’re talking about somewhat. As with anything involving this particular religion, you have to sift through a lot of crap. There is a lot of information out there. I would start with the FB group called ‘Asatru & Heathenry’. You have to sift a little but there are some knowledgeable folks on there. Steer yourself towards what comes from history, research, archaeology, the written record, ane avoid those wbo are all like “Thor totally spoke to me, dude”. He may have but you have no way of verifying that. This is the religion with homework, so… good luck.

      1. Thanks for the info!

        For the sake of full disclosure, I’ll mention that I am personally an atheist and a skeptic. That said, I have no interest in disrespecting or debunking Heathenry, only learning more about it. Insofar as that is concerned, the stuff that comes from history, research, archaeology, and the written record is exactly what I’m looking for.

      2. I hear you. I am an agnostic myself. Not so much as wondering whether the gods exist, but I really just don’t care. They have their destiny and I have mine. I respect what they represent, though, and there are many lessons that can be learned through the lore.

  2. Another thing to clarify, is that the NNV were written by by John Yeowell an John Gibbs-Bailey of the Odinic Rite in the 70s. An organisation some of us see as folkish, bordering on racist, and don’t want anything to do with.

  3. I”m no expert, and I disagree with you, but it’s a good topic that needs more discussion (some need to pay attention). You didn’t mention that Freya gets first pick, and half the fallen warriors. The baddest of the bad still might not get to Valhalla. I would like to go, odds are slim (& I have 3 tours downrange now), but it’s more important to concern ourselves with how we live our lives, now.

      1. Exactly my thoughts. I do enjoy the thought of Valhalla but I’m not aiming to cut my life drastically short by any means. Who knows what waits on the other side? Could be a flaming pile of pigshit or anything. I just follow the ways that my ancestors left and that makes my life worth it.

      1. Most take stanza 14 of Grimnismal:
        14. The ninth is Folkvang, | where Freyja decrees
        Who shall have seats in the hall;
        The half of the dead | each day does she choose,
        And half does Othin have.

        to mean that since Freyja is mentioned first that she gets first pick. The logic is flawed. From the reading it’s either saying that she gets half the slain,period, or that she decides who will go to each hall.

      2. Any good heathen knows Freyja gets first pick. After the war between the Aesir and Vanir and each side sent there own to live with the other this was one of the agreements met to end the war.

  4. You call yourself a heathen, then an agnostic, but in the same sentence say you dont care if they exist, which is not what an agnostic is. Make up your mind. What are you?…

    1. That might be a topic for a whole new article, but I’ll try to sum it up.

      I don’t know if any deities literally exist. Classic agnostic.

      I don’t care if they do. Well, most agnostics I know don’t either. They may question and contemplate as I do once in a while. But I don’t spend time wondering if I am pleasing or angering mythological figures.

      I am a heathen (small h). Because there is more to it than worshipping the Norse gods. It’s also a cultural identity based on the rich heritage of Northern Europeans before Christianization. You can be heathen and not believe in literal gods, or, like me, live your life without calling on them or having much interaction, or questioning their existence.

      Does that help?

      1. This is entirely how I wander through life. People get weirdly upset that I’m not more devoutly some-variety-of-pagan. Seems damn strange to me, and I’m one of the fairly small group of adults raised pagan from birth.

      1. Thank you 4 this. Clear explanation heathen- pegan . Simple science says were is valhala, heaven or what ever its called. My faith in a power i chose to live with

      2. My point was merely to say that the word heathen is not synonymous with Norse/Asatruar etc. and that there is nothing saying that you, Mattifrost, cannot be an agnostic as well as a heathen. I am sorry I did not make it clear that I was supporting your argument.

  5. Something I always thought to be strange is Ragnarok in general. Why on Earth if the Gods know its going to happen would they allow it. Also with the Einherjar, why train and train for a battle which you are going to loose. From what I’ve read Surt engulfs earth with flames and kills everyone except a man and woman and a few other gods. It doesn’t make sense to strive for Valhalla to only die again in Ragnarok. I think people get too caught up in the afterlife of any religion, that they don’t focus on this one. And hey, Amon Amarth is the shit. Good article.

    1. I think that’s the point though. If you knew Hitler was going to win WWII, would you suit up and join him? No. You would fight to your dying breath to oppose the spread of his hateful fascism, because it’s right. The true hero fights for truth and justice even though he knows evil will prevail.

      1. There’s also the fact that Ragnarok can be seen as a metaphor for the fact that EVERYTHING ENDS. And because it’s myth, the end of this age of the world is portrayed in an epic way as a giant conflagration between the primal powers of creation and destruction against the gods of men (who shape the world into something that human beings have a chance of, at least, eeking out a living in). Why would the gods allow it if they have fore-knowledge of it? We all know that one day we will die, does that mean that we will forbid such a thing happening? We can fight and wail and gnash our teeth all we want, it won’t change the fact that we’re going to die no matter what we do. Best to take Odin’s course: prepare the best you can to meet the event in such a way so that *something* survives – whether that be wealth for your descendants, stories of your bravery/good character/generosity/etc., or what have you.

        And evil, in fact, does NOT prevail in the myth of Ragnarok. The worlds are razed, many of the chief gods of this age are slain in battle, and humanity is decimated. But once the battle ends and the dust settles, the worlds return to health and bounty in a new age, the younger gods take up the mantles and responsibilities of their fallen elders, and humanity rebounds. Everything ends, yes, but that just means that new things can arise and have their time in the sun.

      2. Noncense about Hitler! Absolute rubbish’ hitler fought for the germanic rights of his bloodlines sgainst a political jewry He fought marxist communism that was annihlating western cultures.
        The multi cultral shit pot that is now still destroying our homelands is a direct result of the so called victory. I know some good American heathens online who would help you with some direction but this incompetence of a blog is not worthy im afraid to say.Shame!

      3. No, sir, the shame is yours. I wouldn’t allow your tribe of racists into my house in any storm- would they do the same for me and my husband? Or for a Jew or someone not white? Your American friends can keep their ideas away from me and mine. Interestingly, in the US, our right wing tries to paint National Socialism as a leftist idea akin to communism. Maybe you ought to check it over and get on the same page. Either way, you’re a disgrace to humanity, so maybe just go out like your dear Uncle Adolf did and swallow a bullet, sweet cheeks.

      4. Who had power in 1945?

        Churchill, FDR, and Stalin.

        What did they do with that power?

        Look at every White country today where Whites are becoming a hated minority and you’ll see. Any White who believes they “won” WW2 is so indoctrinated they’re beyond stupid. The only “evil” in WW2 was believing that Churchhill, Stalin, and FDR were fighting for “good”.

  6. Valhalla is mentioned only in the Icelandic edda, written generations after the conversion of Iceland. The idea that it in any way accurately reflects per-chritstian Icelandic beliefs is debatable, let alone broader Norse pagan belief. The archeological data from pagan periods doesn’t offer much support for the idea that the afterlife envisioned by Snorri (the Einherar, Hel, Nastrond- all of it) was anything more than a late coming trend which reached it’s zenith in the so called “Viking Age” – a new view of death and afterlife heavily influenced by exposure to Christianity over the preceding centuries, which spread becuase it offered comfort to people (people historically VERY tied to place) that falling in battle in some strange land and not having their remains interred in the family grave mounds would NOT have the result of effectively cutting them off from their ancestors.

    That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

  7. You an agnostic who doesn’t practice yet you have the balls to tell others how they should view things. You sir, are a douchebag.

    1. The namecalling is a tad unnecessary. I’m not telling you how to view anything. I’m trying to offer a different perspective, one based on rationality, common sense, and a basic knowledge of the lore. My agnosticism and limited extent of my practices do not invalidate one single point I made. Think and practice however you wish, but if you disagree with me, calling me a douchebag is not going to illustrate where I am wrong. I suppose I should be grateful you called me ‘sir’, at least.

    2. My thoughts, exactly. Who the hell is this person to decide for another religion, what that means? If you don’t want to be called a douche bag, don’t act like one. It isn’t rocket science.

      1. Olivia, I’m not going to say I’ve never said or done anything douchey, but this is not be being a douchebag. For one, its not “another religion”, it’s mine too. Just because I question the existence of literal deities as they are described in the Eddas or in historical record of the Ancient Northern Europeans does not mean I do not largely support and live by the tenets and customs as I understand them. I may not be observant or overly pious but I am still a heathen.

        As such, my piece was said in an attempt to show that there is more to heathenry than “Hail Odin, die in battle, Valhalla awaits.”. So much more, but most of it mundane and lacking in opportunity for one to pound their chest. Common sense things that people these days sorely lack. If that is being a douchebag well then, I guess I am. But, that’s ‘Sir’ Douchebag, please.

  8. slightly off-topic but related: I’m kind of inclined to believe that Ragnarok itself is a metaphor for the Christianization of the world, resulting in the “death” of the gods, until Baldur returns — until the PEOPLE return to their faith in the old gods and the old ways, even to the Golden Tables of the gods, so to speak. Kind of a “the battle is lost, but there’s hope that the war might yet be won,” story they told themselves to feel better about the conversions of their countries (or their families, friends, villages… sometimes by the sword. I’d want a story to make me feel better about that, too.)

    As for Valhalla, yeah, no, not really the most constructive part of the myths to cling to for most people. And if Ragnarok is seen as a metaphor for Christianization, then Odin’s already picked his fighters and they’re battling it out above our paygrade right now, so it feels kind of moot to me, either way.

    1. Ragnarok could be a metaphor for many things. Your idea is an interesting one. Something to make the pill of forced or inevitable conversion easier to swallow. Many already criticize Snorri as an agent of Christendom, perhaps he was just trying to bridge the gap and save what he could by making it a bit more palatable to Christians. Who knows, I am not an expert on Snorri.

      My thing is, if you look at the idea of Valhalla in the same light as what other religions tell their devotees regarding martyrdom, it’s the same thing. Yet we mock the Jihadist or those who sacrifice their lives for other religions. It also plays into this really terrible alpha-male syndrome that is, frankly, obnoxious and counterproductive. If the basics of heathenry are deeds, honoring ancestors and kin, and living productive lives, then deliberately trying to get to Valhalla seems to be missing the point especially when there is no reason why it shouldn’t be viewed as metaphorical in its entirety, the same way we view Bible stories or tales from other mythos. Taking our beliefs out of a fundamentalist, two-dimensional, literalist mindset and applying/thinking/moving forward makes much more sense in every way than gearing up for some overblown end of everything conflict. At least, to me it does.

      1. “If the basics of heathenry are deeds, honoring ancestors and kin, and living productive lives, then deliberately trying to get to Valhalla seems to be missing the point […] Taking our beliefs out of a fundamentalist, two-dimensional, literalist mindset and applying/thinking/moving forward makes much more sense in every way than gearing up for some overblown end of everything conflict.”

        I hear you, and I agree. It doesn’t serve the community or anyone now, really, outside of the theater of war, to focus on the endgame of Valhalla, regardless of whether it is an authentically pre-christian Norse idea or not. It isn’t the best way to live a productive life in our current society. But also by that same token, the literal interpretation of Valhalla being clung to, to argue against it, is kind of contradictory. Perhaps Valhalla as a catch-all concept implying an afterlife in union with the gods, while certainly carrying tones of the Christian heaven, is not any more or less appropriate than no Valhalla at all.

        And I don’t know, maybe I’m some kind of fool, but I believe that myths are living things, meant to grow and change as the world does, to remain relevant. I don’t necessarily think it matters whether or not any myth is pre-Christian or post-Christian, so much as it matters whether or not the myth serves the needs of the people looking to that faith for guidance.

      2. Yeah, I have heard this same opinion before that Ragnarok is a metaphor for the coming of Christianity. It seems plausible.

  9. I love this post. I think that a lot of modern day pagans like the idea of the glory of Valhalla. But it’s still a young faith…. Factoring in the renaissance it’s going through … I think as people learn more people will begin to open their eyes to more then just the warrior aspect of the faith or worse those who make it a white supremacy movement -_- but hopefully this article begins to open some eyes

  10. I think for the most part you are correct. However, let me suggest a different interpretation:
    Taking the Edda as allegory, not to be taken literally at all, Valhalla (or Sessrumnir) are not eternal destinations at all. With the Indo-European concept of time as cyclical, and their belief in reincarnation, I think we can shed some light on the matter.

    The “night” when the Einherjar go to Valhalla to feast with Odin is the time of death. Some time is spent in Valhalla feasting, and telling each other the others’ stories. When they go out in the courtyard during the day to do battle is rebirth into what we consider life.

    Let us also look at the character of Odin. He is not the archetype of the warrior, that is Thor’s role. Odin is the shaman/magician king. Yes, he plays a role in war, but hos main objective, if you look at the actions attributed to him, is that of personal growth and evolution. In harbarthsljoth, he taunts Thor that his hall is full of nobles, while Thor’s is full of thralls. This suggests merely being a good brawler won’t get you to Valhalla. There must be a certain nobility about the person, not only do they battle well, but they distinguish themselves, they would be the great warriors, they would be the great thinkers and statesmen as well.

    My contention is that the battles being spoken about are INTERNAL battles, of which Ragnarokr is but the culmination of a cycle of internal conflict, leading to the arising of an evolved soul or psyche. After all, what would the gods really care about fights over who stands on what mud?

    I’m also a but dismayed at the fact that all of the other halls are all but ignored by people. Hmm, spending a night “death” in Freyja’s Sessrumnir doesn’t seem to be anything to cry about. Or why not Bilskirnir with Thor, Fensalir with Frigg?

    To which I will leave in agreement with yourself and many others that we should concentrate on living our lives to the fullest, and as close in alignment with our true inner nature which will be different for each of us), and not worry about an afterlife — we’ll be going where it’s most in line with our true being, before our next cycle of life.

    Don’t worry, be heathen……

  11. Remember that there is also Helgafjell, a mountain nearby that could house the dead, perhaps as ghosts?

    For me, I try not to focus on thinking about the afterlife as much as I used to, but that thought always comes flying by our minds because it still remains one of the greatest mysteries ever. I personally have a vast open mind about this issue. I’ve thought many things on my own, that maybe even the gods themselves could have just been great kings, queens, leaders, fighters, etc. from long long long ago and that their legends could have gotten exaggerated to god-like status over the course of years and years and years.

    Maybe the recordings are wrong about the numbers of rooms in certain halls. Maybe our sources written down about the whole process of dying in battle being the only way of getting into Valhalla/Folkvangr are wrong. Maybe it’s possible for us to get into other halls of other gods depending on how we live our lives.

    Speaking of the Abrahamic/Jihadist similarities, I believe that pagan beliefs influenced the creation of much of christianity, and possibly other middle eastern religions too possibly, not saying for sure though. And although pagan beliefs possibly influenced them, in turn, their beliefs could have influenced the way pagan beliefs were recorded also.

    I don’t think our pagan ancestors ever worried as much as we have about the afterlife, mostly because they weren’t sitting around thinking about it all day long and debating on facebook/site forums either. I’ve brought my own mind peace by not worrying about this as much as I did when I first started years ago and have came to the conclusion that, like Odin, even though I might forsee myself losing the final battle (for me, being wrong about the afterlife), I can still fight on regardless and live my life even if I know it’s all just pretend. This is one of the key elements in Asatru, that even though in the end you know you are going to lose, you still fight and play the game the best you can, just as a sports team does when they know they will not be making it to a championship or whatever, they’re still not going to just sit there and get ran all over. Even if you can’t be the victor, you still try to get as close to it as possible so that you know you were at least the greatest challenge and not just some easy cream puff.

    Biggest thing about religion/paganism/spirituality/etc. is that it makes you feel good as a person and is compatible with your personality/who you are, brings you enjoyment, brings you psychological benefits/knowledge, and that it helps you fight through all the b/s you encounter in life, and also that it brings community with the like minded for the people who like attending gatherings.

  12. I mostly agree with what you have written (and am guessing any disagreement stems from you trying to simplify what you think), though I do want to point out that in addition to afterlife in the halls of the gods, there is some evidence that the Germanic people believed our spirits would stay here. The burial mounds in Scandinavia, and England are furnished with all of the things one needs in “life” (at least for those who can afford such burials), and there is a possibility that they believed the spirit would reside there to watch over their descendants similar to how the Egyptian Pharaohs would reside in their tombs.

    1. Merry Met!
      One problem with your comparison is that the Pharoahs, Queens, Scribes had tombs furnished to accompany them in the Afterlife, after having the truth of one’s heart weighed against the feather of Ma’at. After g oing through the Underworld rite (very complex), they then hoped to board the Sun Boat, becoming “the Osiris”…reborn, in another place. The pyramids alone were that their names would be remembered, but not that their Spirits would remain among their descendants, and all buried with them would accompany them to the stars.

      Just a bit of info, with respect for all your hearths and homes

      With Honor towards the Gods of Fire and Ice
      Lady Pythia

  13. Yes, I was trying to stay focused on that one aspect of modern Heathenry that reduces it to a Viking warrior cult. As your comment illustrates, there’s much more to it.

  14. Not sure I agree completely with you Matti, but I commend you on a very well-written and thought out article. Too many of the modern-day heathens and pagans are exactly as you described (sorry guys, Amon Amrath gives me a headache) and so few of us are prepared to accept that there will NOT be a place in Valhalla for us (I choose to accept that Valhalla is real, exactly as described…..and that there will never be a place there for me…..I am not a warrior that would qualify).
    Thank you for sharing with us.

  15. You are entitled to your own opinions regarding Valhalla, as we all are. Each one of us Heathens have a path that we must walk for ourselves, and along that path we develop our faith. We should not put down or shatter anyone’s beliefs along our path. Though we may or may not agree with what they believe will happen when we die, we must not cause them to think that they are being foolish. A persons faith in the Gods and Goddesses can be a fragile thing. Now I do agree that not all will enter into Valhalla, I for one would much rather go to Freyja’s Hall to spend eternity because I have had enough of violence and bloodshed for this life. This is a good topic to discuss, but we must at the same time encourage each Heathen we know and come across to continue to seek the knowledge of Odin and to stay the course. Otherwise we become much like many in the Christian faith who put down other groups for believing different than they do. Hail the Gods and Goddesses! Hail our Folk and may we all continue on our paths!

    1. Now that rings true to me! I dont know shit about Viking stuff, Only read the Eddas a couple times, years ago, and the more I read ppls., discussions, and forums, even debates, the more I realize we don’t know shit about what it was like back then. I had allready read everything Tolkien ever wrote before first reading the Elder Edda, and that was when I was 15. Way back then I had established a relationship with my cultural identy when I realized all peoples had a cultural belief system unique to thier own location. I’m german, welsh, norwiegion, way old family, been in USA since before it was, and that also relates to what I’m trying to say here.
      So, along with the belief that the “Church” concept I had in my head was not for me, ( I went to Catholic CCD, and Luthren Sundy school, had very religious grandparents), my Mom taught me We could be wiccan, have ESP. and use the Stars and Cards to guide us. Also about Karma. She herself did charts and cards. I became a hippy and realized that Magic like that was all based on Mankinds manipulation of his world, not letting things flow, and I decided that it could either be Black(evil), or White(good), and that was that. I had it all figured out for a few years.
      Then I found the runes. I was 18, on the road, had ended up at a carnival, working, when I met a Carney who read my runes.
      There is so much we don’t know about our past, our culture, it saddens me. But one thing I do know is that the Runes work. The Ibrams account is a big deal to me. The beginning of The 13th Warrior for those who don’t know.
      The fact that hundreds of years were spent eradicating all traces of the old religion only makes me more curious and sure that the real meat of our faith can be found in them. In the last 30 years I have spent reading them I have learned to think in them. To see them and let them guide me. I have used Primstaves with success. I dont want to know your questions, but I will read them for ppl. They are my faith.
      As I had mentioned before about being from an old family I am the 7th grandson of the Rev. George Burrows on my mothers side through direct lineage. My great aunt, a high decon in the church wrote a paper about it as part of her Doctorate. Maybe because of this I have embraced the runes so much they can do stuff for me. Or, maybe they work for anybody who uses them, like crystals and dowsing rods.
      So let me bring this full circle, to the island of fairies and elves, where there are rainbows ending in pots of gold. Is that anymore inprobable then a person like me using Runes to manipulate my world? I know I’m a berserker, I have got drunk and in a blackout fought nacked, does that mean I go to Vallhalla?

  16. i like your viewpoint, some people take things to literally across all religions, i think its important to spend time thinking about and discussing things with other like minded people

  17. Good point, well made. Sad that so many who urgently need to take it to heart – even if only to reduce the number of testosterone-tainted, my-gods-are-better-then-yours piccys proliferating on FaceBollox – will ignore you. Because you’re weak and they’re Valhalla-bound (Hail! Etc.) *chuckle*

  18. Not going to read all the comments. So I dont know if anyone mentioned this. This is something I read on another Asatru forum, havent had the time to follow up on it for accuracy. The concept of Valhalla didnt exist prior to the 11th or 9th century. May have my dates wrong. It was something to counter the christian concept of heaven.

  19. Greetings all: I just thought I would express my point of view here. I am a seidman, an Odin’s godhi, and have led two different kindreds over the past 1narok is believed by many scholars8 years. Everyone should remember we are talking about a modern adaptation of a religion that at one time or another stretched from central Russia to North America, and from above the Arctic Circle to North Africa. There are sure to be major differing points of view. We are not really a hierarchical or orthodox religion.

    Ragnarok is believed by many scholars to have originated as a cyclical seasonal myth. Since even in the standard description ends with two new humans and young gods, obviously the change is more akin to the Mesoamerican Indian idea of worlds ending and being reborn than the idea of time itself ending.

    Valhalla (the plural of valhol, hall of the slain) is not a synonym for Asgard, rather it speaks of a specific area in Asgard. Einherjar translates approximately as “lords of single combat.” Since from this thought, Odin was looking only for the pick of the professional warriors not just brave men fighting for their families and homes.

    There are many places where one can go after death, Hel, usually believed to be a holding are for reincarnation, the halls of gods in asgard such as thrudheim, folkvang or sesrumnir, or to become a dis or wight and watch over family or place.

    This getting overlong, so thanks for the interest in the Old Religion of the North. Hail to the Ases and Vans!

  20. I guess humanity cant just get along then. I respect all forms of religion an traditon, but I do agree there are outdated in certain customs and beliefs due to the flow of time. But I believe we should not destroy or forget the bad/negative/evil but to study it and learn from it. Religions need to learn how to evolve like they did in the BC times. Where people got together and studied the spirit instead of dogma and belief.

  21. There are opposites in the world. Up down. Right wrong. Good bad. We don’t need evil spirits such as in the bible to have evil in this world.
    I think in the book of Enoch ( catholic bible) God sent the arch angel Michael down to slay the devil. And slay he did. But protestants bought him back to life to fear monger the people back in church.
    And the band plays on.

  22. I haven’t read all the comments, but I figured I’d jump in. The suspension of disbelief, if only for moment, is something we all do… whether it’s a movie theater, head in a book, playing pretend with a child or LARPing as an adult, a ritual or drunkenly boasting with friends.

    I went to Catholic school, but I’ve never been active enough in the heathen community to pick up that sign of the hammer thing. I am an atheist, humanist, pantheist and heathen. As an atheist, I am more interested in the history and archaeology than literal belief. As a pantheist, I recognize that powerful, transient experiences are a part of the human experience. Yeah, as atheist, I’m aware there’s nothing supernatural about it and it’s all neurochemistry. Just because I understand how sound waves work doesn’t take away the motivation to listen to music, though. Suspension of disbelief feels good.

    I think this post lumps a lot of people together who deserve acknowledgement as being distinct. Yes, there are people who literally believe the mythology. There are also people who “try on” the mythology for almost academic reasons. It’s like a personal endeavor in the field of experimental archaeology. Yeah, it can be just as silly as Abrahamic belief, but any exercise that attempts to mindfully explore sociological concepts in one’s life is not silly. It may not be as effective as adopting Hindu glasses in terms of placing oneself in a minority’s shoes for a while to understand how our culture has shaped our psychological framework, but it’s something.

    To bring an eastern concept in, which may not be historically accurate, I think just like with suspending disbelief, it’s natural for us to also explore as sense of transcendence and oneness, whether at Buddhism temple, a convent, a pagan ritual, alone in the woods or at Wacken Open Air. Ritual and metaphor are powerful tools to do that. The Catholic mass still has an emotional pull on me, but I cannot check my intellect at the door. Why? Because of issues of social justice within the Church and I don’t like the idea that everyone else there assumes I believe literally with my rational mind. Within modern neo-paganism, especially Heathenry*, there is the assumption that your purposes and beliefs for being there are probably way different than mine. I don’t have to hide nor justify and reconcile my mix of atheism, humanism, pantheism and heathenism to others to be able to participate. That leaves a comfort-ability to be able to seek experiences that suspend disbelief temporarily and/or transcend myself or the moment. That’s a natural human urge and its workings are neurological… and it’s okay. Some people feel more of an urge towards those experiences, some feel not at all… and it’s okay.

    [*As opposed to say Wicca, where they may not care what flavor mythology you hold, just as long as you literally believe in the underlying new-agey hocus pocus.]

    Lastly, I’m a female who is slightly transgender/genderfluid in that I can identify mentally as heavily masculine at times. I get the drunken boasting about Valhalla. Yeah, it’s stupid and macho, but as long as it doesn’t cause problems, it’s just innocent masculine bonding. Let the men, or anyone who identifies as macho at the moment in time, be macho.

  23. Haha “the Hail-storm”! I haven’t been on the heathen forums (I’ve only found some that were full of brutes lol) to witness that, but I would love to be part of 1, and then complain about them from then on out haha hilarious!

    I thought dying horribly in battle was besides the point, that it was so long as one fought valiantly and was an honourable person, as well as dying in battle (whether horribly, or gracefully), that would make them a prime candidate? Oh well lol. I always took that to be a metaphor, or that perhaps we’re already living that out: we feast as babies (hopefully), live our lives as honourably (hopefully), eventually die, and are reborn to do it again. The trick, I supposed, is in remaining honourable and figuring this thing out so we can stop the cycle. Oh well. And I totally agree that 72 virgins does not sound appealing haha.

    I’m commenting as I read this because this post has too many hilarious parts I’d forget otherwise: Brosatruars! Lifting weights to Amon Amarth haha I love it. But on a less humorous note lol: there is definitely a parallel between these religions with their ideas of reward after death (but we can’t prove it), and I think people have been played by those in charge, using these concepts to further their agendas at the expense of others. Who’s to say the Eddas haven’t been twisted before their final Draft into the Codex?

    Anyways, your post pretty much sums up how I see this subject.

  24. This entire blog is nothing more than masturbation.

    The moment you start screaming “racism” at Whites you’ve outed yourself as a Useful Idiot.

  25. An Agnostic and a Heathen are not the same thing and yet you say you are both. It’s pretty clear you are a homosexual who wants to scorn any sincere belief in our religion because you know there is one person who would never be allowed in Valhalla, and that is you.

    1. One can be an agnostic and Heathen, because Heathenry is a practice. Orthopraxy, not orthodoxy. One does not need to believe in literal gods to practice Heathenry.

      I’m not sure what being gay has to do with your criticism. Are you suggesting that only heterosexuals can be Heathen?

      I said in the article that I didn’t really want to go to Valhalla anyway, so I’m not even sure what that last slam was all about. “You’re not welcome”. Umm, good. Have a ball.

    2. Where do you get the idea that gays wouldn’t / couldn’t follow one or more of the Norse / Germanic gods? Or, if these gods existed, wouldn’t accept a gay person as one of their followers? You’re projecting your personal ‘world-view-preference’ on other people’s lifestyles.

      One thing all sources agree upon: Germanic ‘faith’ boiled down to a personal ‘contract’ between prefered god(s) and the believer or follower. That’s why there has never been a hierarchical ‘faith’ structure in the Germanic beliefsystem. No-one could tell you how to live your life, as people made a personal bond with the gods and each person was him/herself responsible for the outcome of it.

      Odin was considered a hard-to-satisfy god, which was why he had relatively few followers. And no, the amount of followers didn’t determine the gods’ ranking in the pantheon. It’s not the size of it, it’s what you do with it, yes? Odin was considered fickle and volatile. Thor had many more followers, largely among fishermen and farmers (and there were more of these than full-time / professional fighters), as he was deemed to have a much greater influence on them than Odin, the god of poetry and battle-rage, of fiery passions and quick anger.

      I think this is what Matti Frost is pointing out at the top of the page: this whole ‘fixation’ on Odin in neo-nordic faith, where people can’t make true the contract to Odin. ‘Back then’, if you chose Odin as your personal god, you damn well better make sure you could be true to him, or he’d be dissappointed, if not downright angry. And he does have a wicked, even sick, sense of humour…

      Basically, unless you’re a fulltime mercenary or soldier or very good skald/bard (hiya there, Amon Amarth), Odin should probably not be your first choice of god. The outcome of the contract is probably not what you’d expect. But if you do chose Odin while being a keyboard warrior and pulling down money in a 9-5 job, hey, no fuss – it’s your responsibility and your (after)life… Enjoy!

  26. As some of you might know, there is this hategroup called Soldiers of Odin. Recently one of them killed himself, drove his motorcycle into oncoming traffic. AND then his friends were all like “see you in valhalla” in various misspelled forms. Velhala, walhale etc. Ok so they are idiots even without this incident, and i’m really close to just give up on humankind. HOW ON EARTH anyone can think that suicide by traffic is in any ways honorable death? Suicide by berserking on an unbeatable enemy in battlefield would do it, i suppose.

  27. I can agree with you on what you wrote. I am a heathen as well, I do believe in the Gods, but I personally believe that Valhalla is not a place to go to except for those who just love war and fighting, which personally I do not agree on. I take the ideas of the Havamal and that I do wish to live my life gaining knowledge and wisdom, which to me is a great way to live life especially when you can learn to end conflicts with words, not swords. I understand to some, the idea of fighting along side the Gods sounds great and everything, but the idea of dying over and over, it just sounds as you said, petty. I do perform some rituals, mainly just because I more just like to honor nature more than the gods, as I believe that they will look away from you. I believe to just trust in my own strength and the sweat on my brow and to celebrate in the spoils and the gods will celebrate with you. A lot of people may disagree with that view, I know some will say that I am Agnostic as I do not perform rituals and blots all the time, or that I am not part of a kindred. Thank you for writing this though. I wish more people had this view, it would make actual conversations much interesting than hearing, “Oh! If I do good in life, Odin will allow me in Valhalla!” Stay wise and continue for knowledge my friend!

  28. In the gylfaginning chapter 34 it is said that those who die of disease or old age will go to Helheim where hel will give them lodging and items. From what I’m given to understand, the only way into Valhalla (or folkvangr) is to be slain in battle.

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