Interpretations

How we see the same, but differently

Interpretations

How we see the same, but differently

Not dogmatic

That the belief in the old gods isn’t dogmatic, is to many a good thing; no assembly of self-proclaimed wise men have been sitting in a circle to decide what’s sacred and what’s not. But of course, with that also follows what others might find messy, as there is no one particular direction.

As heathens though, we usually see this as being an advantage, making us more inclusive in our beliefs, and makes us able to accept that other people naturally think differently than we do, which is often a very typical trait for polytheistic religions.

In this section, we will try to give an overview of the more common interpretations that we ourselves have encountered through our journey in the heathen sphere. However, with the footnote that a great many people’s perception is colored by a mixture of the different main groups, as well as variations in the degree of importance of them.

No one knows whose sight is the truest

As an Asatrú in Denmark, one is familiar with the wise words of Ole Gotved, ”…we see the same, but see differently. Nobody knows whose sight is the truest”. Of course, we agree with that, and the idea behind this section is therefore not to point fingers at some of the different groups – simply to enlighten.

Shamanistic

That there is a certain emphasis on shamanism in the religion is hardly debatable. For instance, the divinities of the Völva and Odin’s own spiritual wanderings can be mentioned, as these in particular show the Shamanistic nature. The belief that there is an other side and that this can be interacted with.

Therefore, this is also a natural starting point for many norse pagans who may have become acquainted with or heard of Ayahuasca from the South American Shamans, the Oracle of Delphi and the Isiscult from the Mediterranean, or Native American elders who communicated with the spirits on behalf of the tribe.

In the pagan world, this often takes form as soul journeys, for example in connection with Sejd, and for some the idea that we are here on earth to improve ourselves, that we must awaken our personal Valkyrie on the other side of the veil and fight our inner Jötuns (hatred, anger, greed, etc.) before we can be considered worthy of entering Valhalla when we die. Therefore, we often look for symbolism, the deeper escoteric meaning and what is in between the lines, rathat than the literal sense of the word.

New Age

Most people know about the New Age culture that originated primarily in the latter part of the twentieth century and around the west filled many broadcasts with TV shows about Healers, Clairvoyant, Aura mediators and other spiritual seekers. There are several fairs each year and they reach a wide range of people.

Many have therefore had their entrance into Asatrú from a New Age perspective and usually see the energies that the different gods and goddesses stand for, rather than perhaps the directly personified versions. When talking about Thor, they might see Willpower and Explosive Electric Powers, or perhaps see in Loki a form of Chaos energy that can be difficult to control – just to give some examples.

Folkish

With the scope of faith geared towards one’s ancestors and one’s peoples, this group often has to content with being called rascists, and there can be no denying that there have been some with extreme beliefs that have brought this view into a bad light, but the same however, can be said about the opposite camp – the pendulum swings both ways and everything can be bent to perverse degrees.

Basically, in reality, it is about something far more pure of heart, namely the appreciation of the ancestors and one’s own people and culture, without whom we would not even be here today.

Vikings

This interpretation is often found in connection with reenactment, the reproduction and dissemination of history, on various Viking and Medieval markets around the world and Scandinavia in particular. To varying degrees, some may feel closer to the old customs if they wear historically appropriate clothing during the rituals.

You also find a deep belief in these circles, in that you must die on the battlefield in order to be considered worthy to get into Valhalla when you die.

Nature

For some, nature is the most important factor in their view of the faith; they may pay a greater degree of tribute to the natural forces and find a deep-seated joy of being out in nature, and having their fingers in the mud, so to speak. Maybe even with a slightly more animistic approach than some of the other perceptions, whereby you see spirits in trees, plants, streams and the like.

Litteral

The notion that the written word should be taken literally; when Thor is mentioned, it is in fact an actually red-haired person who controls the thunderstorms from his buck-pulled carriage and who’s fighting giants in the east, or that Frey has an actual ship in his pocket.

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