REPLY TO THE NORWEGIAN HEATHEN SOCIETY I
I would like to comment to the article written by M.R. in "Oss Hedninger imellom" Påske 97. He made it sound like Åsatru people worship 'Odin and the other gods in the heavens' in the same manner as the Christians worship Jehovah. Well, I would like to explain that this is extremely far from the truth and that his comment only shows lack of understanding and indeed the same Christian ignorance he (as we all) wishes to get rid of.
Åsatru, and most other ancient pagan religions, are by no means comparable to the enslaving, dogmatic, middle-eastern religions. In many ways they are in fact the opposite. Åsatru very simply is the acknowledgement and understanding of the natural forces surrounding us and the human nature within us. Pagan-gods are merely symbols of these natural forces and the many different characters of the human being. The pagan should understand the need for a balance between the opposite forces, like gods and goddesses, thus male and female, day and night, positive and negative.
The Christians evilised all the things which the pagans respected, everything that the pagans saw as natural, such as pleasure, sex, fertility, harmony between opposites, working magic, communicating with nature and animals, etc. The Christians gave us duality, the narrow idea of "this is good, all that is evil", and many non-Christians even today live by the unnatural, intolerant Christian morals and practice duality, believing in 'good and evil'.
I think it should be everybody's concern to understand and work with nature, as it is in fact the earth that gave us life, not some harsh man high in the clouds. Indeed I see it as the only chance to save the planet and the last wild animals.
Yes, we do hold ceremonies in order to honour the seasons and to mark important events in the individual's life, such as initiating the youth into manhood or womanhood, weddings etc.
Even the Human Etik Forbund wrote that the human-being somehow needs ceremonies to highlight events in his/her life and in our rituals we talk about nature, animals, human relations, the need to be honest, kind, honourable and just...basically, to make the most out of life. We do not talk about nonsense like "and now you have to bow down to Odin"," you are not allowed to do this or that" etc. Even our weddings are not "till death do us part". It's more like "until we wish to part". Natural people have no 'holy books', their believe comes from the inner self.
Yes, mythology clads reality in fanciful disguise, and there are a lot of mysterious creatures mentioned in myths and legends. But I think it is only positive and beautiful that the human-being back then had the ability to be so creative and imaginative. It is especially important for children to hold on to their own natural imagination and fantasy.
M.R. states "de er frekk nok å kalle seg hedninger"…(they are cheeky enough to call themselves heathens...) well, the word 'heathen' ( 'heide' in German and hedning in Norwegian) refers to the "people from the heath"- the land, where nature grows wild. Thus referring to the natural tribes. The word pagan comes from paganus and means "villager" or "farmer", again meaning people that live within nature.
What I am trying to say here is that Åsatru is not some strange new-dogmatic religion with a lot of superstitious and barbaric customs. Certainly not.
The desire is to learn as much as possible about life and it's intrigues, to live life to the fullest, to maintain strength, vitality and balance. I personally don't believe in any gods in the universe and I also don't believe in a life after death. However, nobody knows of course for sure if there is anything or if there is life on other planets in the universe. There are so many different theories, thus I try to keep an open mind.
I believe it is in all our interest to go against the enslaving dogmatic middle-eastern religions (the religions, that teach fear of a terrible masculine god, that demonized the natural instincts, that regard sex as 'bad', that demonized women and their wisdom, that make little children suffer). I do support the Hedningersamfunn and I am very glad that there are international Atheist and Human-Ethic organizations around. We need more. After all they help people to find to themselves.
Therefore I think it is not very fair that M.R. condemns the kind of pagans that choose to find their fulfillment in practicing ancient traditions, talking to trees or that even find great pleasure in such things as 'dancing naked in forest in the moon-light,' for example… It is in all our interest to lead a free, natural life, without feelings of guild or shame.
Nebelhexe, Autumn 97