Posts Tagged ‘Vanir’

This post was inspired by the prompt at the Heathen Round Table. If you’re heathen, heathen-curious, or simply curious, you are one of those invited to listen and comment A new topic will be supplied monthly and these topics will range from the simple to the less-simple.

This month’s topic is: “How did you first become involved in heathenry? What started you on this path, and how has it changed you?”

I don’t even remember. What was the first Heathen book I read? The first time I flirted with Freya?

I do remember the reasoning and the cause.

As a child and a believer in another faith, I often found the idea of heaven boring. I had plans, things I would do that might take billions of years of exploring. But…then what? If the Afterlife is the purpose of Life, what is the purpose of the Afterlife?

I did the usual teenage exploring. I made a special study of Buddhism and found I was not nihilistic enough to want the CAUSE to end simply because I was dead. And that idea applied to every faith. It seemed every faith demanded you serve God so you could quit serving and be a hedonist in the next world. No wonder so many of my friends became atheists.

But I couldn’t do that. To me, and I know this sounds juvenile, the eternal divine is simply obvious. I can’t explain it or weigh it and I can’t convince anyone of it. I’m okay with that.

The warrior ethos and the study of military history was a huge part of my childhood and young adult life. I wanted to be a knight. I wanted to stand at Thermopylae, Cannae, Stamford Bridge, Hastings, Agincourt…Baden Hill.

I wanted to be part of a small army facing impossible odds in the name of all that is just and good. I wanted my ancestors and the divine to be pleased with the nature of my death. I won’t lie to you, I still have that fantasy and I am fifty years old and my wars seem to be over.

I do not know when I read of vikings of Odin and Thor and Frey and Valhalla. And long before I ever thought of them as Gods, I made a connection to the wights through my study of animism and shamanism. My son and I began pouring offerings to the spirit residing at the park where he played.  I made promises, that I’d honor that wight, remember him, and teach my sons to honor him. In return, I wanted his protection for my son as he played and celebrated the Park Itself.

We still do this.

I do not know when this blossomed into Heathenism. I had read of vikings and knew stories of Thor and Odin and Frey and I knew something of runes. But it was Ragnarok that turned me. If you live your life as a soldier, a warrior committed to the destruction of that which threatens humanity, why would you not be such in the Afterlife? Why would you not continue to be committed to preparing for that great battle every faith insists is coming at the end of the age?

I should write my meditations upon Ragnarok another day.

So…this is how I took to this path: with black rifle and bayonet. I was solidly upon it when, in Iraq, I prayed a simple prayer to Freya every time the shooting started: “Choose me.”

It has changed me by sharpening and refining my moral instincts as a warrior, even though I still fail monumentally from time to time. This has been a cause of some conflict with some of my fellow heathens on occasion. When the young men, tattoed and bearded, boast of being warriors and following warrior Gods, I am the one who asks what wars they have been to…what wars they contemplate going to in the future.

Make no mistake…I do not believe war is the proper path for every heathen or every good man. But there is more to getting into Valhalla than being a gym rat who studies BJJ. And I admit here that I may have missed my chance.

So, there was no great conversion event, no blinding light on the road to Uppsala. But here I stand.

Here I stand with a black rifle and a wooden sword.

Hail the Aesir! Hail the Vanir! Hail the Ancestors!