My Issues With Modern AsatruAsatru is the generally accepted term for people who practice pre-Christian Norse religion, so that is what I call my belief system when I describe it to other people. However, I honestly don't know if I can consider myself Asatru. I have a lot of issues with the attitudes prevalent in the community. This is kind of a rant and a little bit of an essay, so please bare with me while I vent and make a few observations along the way.
Firstly, I have an issue with the attitude of "if it isn't in the lore, we don't do it and anyone who does is WRONG." I strongly disagree with that sentiment. If we stick to the lore, we have a bare bones spirituality with very little real spirituality in it. For example, the average Heathen's household shrine (if they even have one) is a table with a hammer, a bowl, and maybe a statue on it. The average Heathen blot consists of people gathering around while the godhi pours out some beer and recites a (usually very short and mechanical) prayer.
This is PATHETIC compared to the rites of surviving polytheistic religions like Hinduism and the Mari Faith. To me, it seems like anything more colorful and emotional than that is written off as "Neopagan influence" which many Heathens loudly and frequently proclaim to be free from and disdainful of. This kind of knee jerk reaction is just stupid. Hinduism, one of the only surviving branches of Indo-European religion and thus a distant cousin to Asatru, has many loud, colorful, and vibrant celebrations of its gods and goddesses. The Mari, the last people in Europe to maintain their ancestral religion, also have several colorful and joyous festivals dedicated to their deities.
This anti-ritual attitude also has a strong undercurrent of wanting to be seen as a "legitimate religion" by the Christian majority, most of whom don't even see Judaism or Islam as legitimate religions. Because most Asatruars were raised in Christian denominations that have very little ceremony in them, I think they subconsciously associate a lack of ritual with being a legitimate religion. This is a Christian concept, not a Germanic one, and it needs to go.
Another issue is the over dependence on written sources and "the lore". Many Asatruar have replace the Bible with "the Lore" and treat the Eddas like sc
Which brings me to the issue of people who believe the gods don't interact with people anymore, or that they have "gone from the world". If you think the gods don't do anything or are "gone" why even bother being part of this religion? In my experience, the gods are real, and they can and DO influence our world and those who worship them. This frightens a lot of people I think. They're used to a god who is distant and removed from the world we live in, not one you can hear in the roar of thunder like Thor, feel in the earth beneath your feet like Freyr, or see in the crash of waves on the beach like Aegir.
Then there are the people who want to be Asatru but believe "our ancestors didn't need the gods and neither do I!" Yeah, right. That nonsense comes from viking movies with little historical accuracy (thank you Hollywood). People who want to "do what my ancestors did" but not need and sometimes not even believe in the gods have completely missed the point. Go larp if you want to act like a viking (which most of our ancestors WERE NOT) but not worship the Norse gods.
There is the over importance of the"viking warrior spirit" that I can't stand. Most of our ancestors were farmers or craftsmen, not warriors, and unless you are in the military or are an extreme martial arts enthusiast, neither are you. People need to quit with the macho "I'm big and bad and have a huge ****" pseudo-warrior code thing. This is mostly a problem with guys, but I've also noticed it in a few women who think they're tough or that "viking women have to be as tough as viking men" (see above statement about how you are not a viking).
Lastly, we come to the Jotnar, aka "giants" and the subject of Loki worshipers. Ever notice how he ALWAYS pops up in a conversation about Norse religion? But that's an issue for another time. I say that if people want to worship Loki (or any other jotun for that matter) then LET THEM. It is their choice, not yours, not mine, or anybody else's. Disapproving of it is fine, but if it really is all that dangerous and likely to bring disaster upon them, then sooner or later they will learn the error of their ways. Also, there are a few references in the lore to certain Jotnar being propitiated. For example, there is mention (however briefly) of an Icelander composing poetry for Surtr, the King of Muspelheim, so Jotun worship does have some (shakey and circumstancial) historical record.
So, those are my issues with Asatru. I hope the community eventually weeds those issues out. I'm sick of reconstructing. I want a living, breathing faith, not some mediocre skeleton of what once was.
deleted 26-30 5 Responses 7 Oct 11, 2012