Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Taking The Asatru Gods Seriously

Taking The Asatru Gods Seriously Cover Fundamental to the faith of Asatru is the idea that we are kin and friends to the Holy Powers. We are kin because Heimdal planted the divine seed in the wombs of our foremothers; friends, because we exchange gifts when Gods and humans come together in sacred space at our most fundamental religious rite, that of the blot or blessing.

This attitude contrasts sharply with the Relationship found in most other religions, where humans are slaves to God, fit only to obey and to serve their divine master.

Unfortunately, we often assume from this difference that it is okay to be extremely casual during ritual, treating the Holy Powers much like we would treat our buddies down at the local bar. Back in the early 1980's, one manifestation of this attitude was a version of the song "Give Me That Old Time Religion" featuring irreverent verses about an endless series of pagan deities, including Odin, Thor, and Freya, among others. We thought it was really funny, especially after we had had a few beers or passed a few horns of mead around the campfire - but by then, almost anything was funny.

In retrospect, this attitude was shameful, wrong, and immature. I am happy to say that in the Asatru Folk Assembly we have grown beyond this behavior, but as a movement we wasted precious years in such childishness.

I contrast this puerile prankishness with the seriousness with which our ancestors approached the Divine, and I am appalled. The old tribes built a protective network of ritual and custom around interaction with the Holy that encouraged deliberation and an awareness of the sacred.

Yes, we do share the same ultimate nature with the Gods and goddesses. Odin, Vili, and Ve (or Odin, Hoenir, and Lodur, depending on the version of the lore you choose) gave us this gift by shaping the components of our souls to resemble their own, and thus to share the potential of Godhood. But while we are alike in essence we are overwhelmingly different in magnitude. Our souls are like the ephemeral sparks struck by flint and steel, while the Gods are roaring blast furnaces. Our task is to grow to more resemble our Holy Kin, but we have…well, a long way to go. It does not behoove us to be casual or overly familiar; such behavior can only mislead us into thinking "we are as good as they are" - egalitarianism at its most foolish.

Often I wonder if many of those who pepper their blots with casual reference to their Godly buddies really believe in the Gods at all. To treat Odin with anything other than the deepest awe is to ignore the terrible mystery that cloaks him, but even Thor, friend of man, is not your "bud" like the guy down at the club who buys you a drink. The Goddesses, too, received their somber sacrifices in olden times.

I am not saying we should tremble before the Holy Powers, but even the most approachable of them surpasses us in evolution to a degree we cannot really comprehend. It is wrong to trivialize them or to trifle with them, and we should go before them only with a profound reverence. Those who object that "the Gods want to hear us laugh" need to wake up and realize that there is a time for laughter, joking, and prankishness - but that time is not when one is standing before the Gods and Goddesses of our Folk. Save your laughter for the hearth, and if you would laugh with our Elder Kin let it be at the convivial feast where the Holy Powers sit unseen among us.

No one will take Asatru seriously until we start taking our Gods and Goddesses, our faith, and ourselves seriously. When our lives are imbued with reverence and sincerity toward the powerful, awe-inspiring, transformative beings of Asgard and Vanaheim, then the world will stand up and take notice!

Books in PDF format to read:

Aleister Crowley - Absinthe The Green Goddess
Anthony Arndt - Blotar A Brief Guide To Asatru Ritual
Rabbi Michael Laitman - Attaining The Worlds Beyond