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Darkdale
October 21st, 2005, 09:43 AM
I thought it would be interesting to set up a thread to discuss the Heathen World View from an anthropological & lore-based perspective. I thought maybe we could focus on discussing:

a) Is there a group of central tenants in pre-Christian Heathen culture and in heathen lore that constitute a religious worldview?

b) If so, what constitutes the Heathen World View?

c) Is the heathen world view capable of mixing, or functioning, in today's modern society?

d) Is the heathen world view such that it is capable of evolution? If so, how far could it evolve before it is no longer heathen?

If anyone is interested in discussing these questions, let me know. I'm not sure how well this would serve as a class, but I would be interested in hearing everyone's point of view.

banondraig
October 27th, 2005, 01:48 PM
sounds cool. i'll be checking in on this thread periodically.

Rick
October 28th, 2005, 10:04 PM
Maybe we could get this thread moved over to the Recon sub-forum in Paths? Might draw more attention there...

Haerfest Leah
October 29th, 2005, 08:33 PM
Well I'm interested but I have not been in the faith long enough to be of any help on this topic, I'll be following.

All I can add is this current discussion on the topic from another forum that mentions the Heathen world view...

http://www.asatrulore.org/thread.php?sid=&postid=44399#post44399

Hangatyr 13
November 3rd, 2005, 06:01 PM
:thumbsup: Great topic. I might get back to this later.

Darkdale
December 27th, 2005, 01:48 AM
The following is from a post on another board about Asatru and its' relationship to "religion" and "spirituality". This is kind of a summery of where my focus is, from my point of view. It kind of fits in with this thread, but it's simple and less specific. -----------------


I don't know if most people see heathenry the same as me or not, but for me, the gods (with whom I have no personal relationship but tend toward honoring them through ritual) aren't the purpose of my "religion" or the focus of my "spirituality". From what I've gathered from the lore (mainly the Sagas), to be a heathen is to act, to both enjoy and be a boon to friends and family, and finally to live a productive and virtuous life. I have a hard time getting in touch with the old "culture" outside of a literary and historical appreciation, and for the worldview that inspired it. I'm not so much for brawn and adventure as I am for reading, study and debate. But I believe that the foundations of the old heathen cultures have never been needed more than they are today. Honor.

I often find myself trying to figure out what Asatru is doing. All these various organizations, the debates, the reconstruction. I find, more and more, that my interests and actions would not have won much honor in the old days and I struggle with the feelings that arise from that observation. But I realize that I do not live in the old days, nor do I face the same obstacles and environment. I live in the sprawling suburbs of Washington DC, amidst the hustle and bustle of American Capitalism and rabid consumerism. I am a student and have won most of my praise in my works of philosophy and psychology.

What I've learned from trying to live a heathen life is the importance of virtue, of honor and of oaths, the amazing depths and wonders of family and friendship, the simple clarity and Truth of the heathen philosophy and the beatitude of adoring my gods and my ancestors; their mythology and traditions. The language I use to describe this (religion/spirituality/philosophy/worldview) are meaningless compared to actually experiencing them. I'd rather read the sagas than try to explain the religious undertones to others. I'd rather read the Eddas over morning coffee than try to explain the "religious symbolism". I'd rather visit with family and friends than attempt to extrapolate, for the benefit of others, a serious set of semantics capable of defining my traditions. I suppose it is what Iíve learned from my experience that is my religion, if it really needs to be called that at all.

CzechWoods
December 27th, 2005, 02:48 AM
interesting topic. marking the therad so if it moves i m still in ;)

CzechWoods
December 27th, 2005, 02:52 AM
is the term heathen limited to nordic heathen as in asatru/germanic/viking ?

Darkdale
December 27th, 2005, 10:52 AM
is the term heathen limited to nordic heathen as in asatru/germanic/viking ?

yes it is. :viking:

CzechWoods
December 27th, 2005, 12:11 PM
dang than i cant discuss. i will just watch

mothwench
December 27th, 2005, 01:18 PM
I thought it would be interesting to set up a thread to discuss the Heathen World View from an anthropological & lore-based perspective. I thought maybe we could focus on discussing:
and i've been wanting to reply to this thread for ages, i just never had the time. :awilly: very interesting subject, though.


a) Is there a group of central tenants in pre-Christian Heathen culture and in heathen lore that constitute a religious worldview?
i would say no. even the deities seem to be regionally specific, in some cases at least. unless you have the pantheistic touch that makes you believe the norwegian odin is the same as the german wotan which is basically like the anglo woden... but even in that respect, asatruar can be that way inclined, or hard polytheists. cosmology is equally diverse. although maybe here we do find one thing in common, the world tree. but the notion that the universe is a tree is as far as it goes. and politically, we're as diverse as any other group, as i'm sure you'll know.
the havamal may be a key to heathen ethics but it can be taken this way and that (though i admit, some parts, like the importance of hospitality for instance, are pretty clear and not mis-interpretable), and in any case, should for instance an anglo-saxon recon be bound to the rules of the havamal? i think not. to take that arguement further, should a scandinavian heathen be bound to what the havamal says? not in my opinion, because however good the edda may be to give us an idea about the heathen life and mythology, it is a script written by a christian, who may or may not have falsified things. best to act on intuition, to be honest, i think.


b) If so, what constitutes the Heathen World View?
i daresay, nothing besides the connection to a spirituality that is in some form derived of a norse/germanic culture. apart from that, i don't see there is anything totally unique to heathenry that isn't also in some ways also a part of some other pagan spirituality. (i.e. polytheism, belief or acknowledgement of personified forces of nature, honoring of ancestors etc.)


c) Is the heathen world view capable of mixing, or functioning, in today's modern society?
i would say that depends on your person. look at christians, for example. only the most fundamental christians manage to live by what the bible says, yet the ones who have a more relaxed attitude to things like say, contraception for example, still believe they'll go to heaven when they die.


d) Is the heathen world view such that it is capable of evolution? If so, how far could it evolve before it is no longer heathen?
not really my place to answer that one, as i have already stated that i don't believe there is one heathen world view. :)

Darkdale
December 27th, 2005, 08:14 PM
not really my place to answer that one, as i have already stated that i don't believe there is one heathen world view. :)

Just curious, but have you not developed a sense of a common theme within the Saga's and the Eddas, and in the archeological record and literature, that might constitute an utterly unique and singular worldview?

Rick
December 28th, 2005, 01:03 AM
the havamal may be a key to heathen ethics but it can be taken this way and that
Um, Mothy, unless you're reading some translation that the rest of us aren't privy to, I have to disagree. The stanzas of the Havamal are pretty clear as to how to behave with honor toward one's kith & kin.

and in any case, should for instance an anglo-saxon recon be bound to the rules of the havamal?
BOUND to it?

should a scandinavian heathen be bound to what the havamal says?
No self-respecting Heathen is BOUND to anything, save his oaths, his blood, & his land. But EVERY self-respecting Heathen should strive to live up to the standards set forth in the Havamal. It is THE source material. There really is no other.

however good the edda may be to give us an idea about the heathen life and mythology, it is a script written by a christian, who may or may not have falsified things.
Um, no. The Prose Edda may have been put on paper by an xtian (the debate on that one continues), but the Sagas in The Poetic Edda are demonstrably pre-xtian, in most cases (again, who may have put pen to paper is open to debate).

We can agree that there really isn't anything approaching 'one Heathen world view'.

PS to Czechwoods: I know Druids that claim the term Heathen. Feel free to join in the discussion. Anyone that is native to your part of the world is Heathen by default. :hehehehe:

CzechWoods
December 28th, 2005, 01:17 AM
PS to Czechwoods: I know Druids that claim the term Heathen. Feel free to join in the discussion. Anyone that is native to your part of the world is Heathen by default. :hehehehe:

well, i personally dont believe much in the written word only. meaning, my approach is rather... is it a natural state, does it feel right - if so, it is part of th codex so to speak.

as i dont know much (or most nothing) bout the edda, the other wordings you are refering to and asatru/northern/viking stuff, this is not really something i can discuss

i can only say that from a point of view of *MY* approach: nature does changes and adaptations, yet never out of the system. it all has to stay natural and follow its roots

so in those lines a change is possible, a slight adaptation, but not so much a change as in total turn around in new contexts

Darkdale
December 28th, 2005, 06:49 AM
No self-respecting Heathen is BOUND to anything, save his oaths, his blood, & his land. But EVERY self-respecting Heathen should strive to live up to the standards set forth in the Havamal. It is THE source material. There really is no other.

Quite true. The importance of the Eddas and Sagas is to lay out the foundation for our worldview, to establish the basics. The Havamal is just that. A foundation. We are by no means bound to be unevolved, but the entire reason for being a heathen is because I believe in the unique, singular worldview found in the Eddas and Sagas. If I didn't, I'd be something else all together.

mothwench
December 28th, 2005, 06:53 AM
Just curious, but have you not developed a sense of a common theme within the Saga's and the Eddas, and in the archeological record and literature, that might constitute an utterly unique and singular worldview?
not really. especially in regard to archaeology, i never found much of a difference between the germans and the earlier celts.

mothwench
December 28th, 2005, 07:06 AM
Um, Mothy, unless you're reading some translation that the rest of us aren't privy to, I have to disagree. The stanzas of the Havamal are pretty clear as to how to behave with honor toward one's kith & kin.
yes, and i did say, that some parts are quite clear in meaning. and some aren't but maybe that's just my take on it. in any case i don't think that for example behaving with honor toword one's kin is actually unique to the heathen spirituality, i think that it's a staple of lots of other pagan religions, as well as it is to christianity, and islam.


BOUND to it?

No self-respecting Heathen is BOUND to anything, save his oaths, his blood, & his land. But EVERY self-respecting Heathen should strive to live up to the standards set forth in the Havamal.
okay. that's what i meant, i do realise now, it was a poor choice of words. :hehehehe:

It is THE source material. There really is no other.
well, i think that is an interesting point. just because there is no other, doesn't mean that to not follow it would be wrong. i try to follow it, simply because i agree with what it says, but i wouldn't go as far as saying every heathen has to, otherwise he is no heathen, kwim?


Um, no. The Prose Edda may have been put on paper by an xtian (the debate on that one continues), but the Sagas in The Poetic Edda are demonstrably pre-xtian, in most cases (again, who may have put pen to paper is open to debate).
well, i must admit i have not read much of the poetic edda yet. and yes i thought both were written by snorri. my bad.

Darkdale
December 29th, 2005, 07:39 AM
not really. especially in regard to archaeology, i never found much of a difference between the germans and the earlier celts.

I'm confused, the celts were a Germanic tribe were they not? They immigrated from Germania right?

mothwench
December 29th, 2005, 12:37 PM
no... though there was some mixing between certain tribes and it is said that for example the belgicae (i think that's their name) were half celtic and half germanic (whatever that means), so the line is slightly blurred in some places. (read nantonos's thread "celto-germanic reconstructionism if you're interested in that sort of thing, it's very good. :smile: )
but linguistically as well as sometimes culturally, the celts were different from the germans. both are indo-europeans, though.

eta: they emigrated from not just germania, but also gaul, the alps (austria & switzerland) and iberia.

mucgwyrt
January 2nd, 2006, 05:39 AM
No self-respecting Heathen is BOUND to anything, save his oaths, his blood, & his land. But EVERY self-respecting Heathen should strive to live up to the standards set forth in the Havamal. It is THE source material. There really is no other.

I think Mothy's point was that it was not a guide for th anglo-saxon heathens since it was written on the continent, after the norman conquest.

Which leads me to...



i would say no. even the deities seem to be regionally specific, in some cases at least. unless you have the pantheistic touch that makes you believe the norwegian odin is the same as the german wotan which is basically like the anglo woden... but even in that respect, asatruar can be that way inclined, or hard polytheists.

The lore around each regional diety was probably different - it's just that most of what we have comes from one or two locations. In my mind, they were the same diety once, but as tribes moved and spread they diverged and each locality probably invented their own mini-legends - kind of how bertchta (was it bertchta?) is seen as a beautiful woman in some areas and an 'evil' crone in others; different tribes developped their gods in different ways, and this was only perpetuated by the coming of Christianity, which further "changed" the gods to fit in with what was acceptable to their religeon. So in shot, imo although they probably began as one singular diety they became somewhat seperate dieties over time, and I think it's wrong to lump them into the same name; Woden as Odin as Wotan etc (although that sure would make life a lot easier!)

_inabox_

banondraig
January 3rd, 2006, 09:23 PM
I think Mothy's point was that it was not a guide for th anglo-saxon heathens since it was written on the continent, after the norman conquest.

Which leads me to...



The lore around each regional diety was probably different - it's just that most of what we have comes from one or two locations. In my mind, they were the same diety once, but as tribes moved and spread they diverged and each locality probably invented their own mini-legends - kind of how bertchta (was it bertchta?) is seen as a beautiful woman in some areas and an 'evil' crone in others; different tribes developped their gods in different ways, and this was only perpetuated by the coming of Christianity, which further "changed" the gods to fit in with what was acceptable to their religeon. So in shot, imo although they probably began as one singular diety they became somewhat seperate dieties over time, and I think it's wrong to lump them into the same name; Woden as Odin as Wotan etc (although that sure would make life a lot easier!)

_inabox_

that's a good point, but in some places the lore is quite thin on the ground, particularly anglo-saxon lore iirc. one has to fill in gaps from somewhere, and a similar source is better than none at all, in my opinion.

Rick
January 4th, 2006, 02:27 AM
The oral traditions of the Saxons, Norse, Danes, Frisians, etc all spring off of the oral traditions of the Teutonic folk... doesn't matter who set pen to paper when, the Poetic Edda is still the closest to the original sources as we're likely to get.

mucgwyrt
January 4th, 2006, 05:51 AM
The oral traditions of the Saxons, Norse, Danes, Frisians, etc all spring off of the oral traditions of the Teutonic folk... doesn't matter who set pen to paper when, the Poetic Edda is still the closest to the original sources as we're likely to get.
I agree that it's the closest we're likely to get, and that it's very useful for anglo-saxon recons, and can be successfully incorporated into practise etc etc etc - my only point was that it's not gospel for any vacinity or era except that in which it was written; anglo-saxon (for example) lore will have undoubtedly varied a bit :)

banondraig
January 4th, 2006, 08:33 PM
I agree that it's the closest we're likely to get, and that it's very useful for anglo-saxon recons, and can be successfully incorporated into practise etc etc etc - my only point was that it's not gospel for any vacinity or era except that in which it was written; anglo-saxon (for example) lore will have undoubtedly varied a bit :)


of course there will be some regional differences, but just to be like that, how many different translations of the gospels are out there now? :lol:

Darkdale
January 8th, 2006, 01:24 PM
I agree that it's the closest we're likely to get, and that it's very useful for anglo-saxon recons, and can be successfully incorporated into practise etc etc etc - my only point was that it's not gospel for any vacinity or era except that in which it was written; anglo-saxon (for example) lore will have undoubtedly varied a bit :)

Well, the significance of the lore is not "rules", but rather a broad, but clear worldview. As long as a persons beliefs are consistent with the heathen worldview, I don't see any harm done; but there are an awful lot of people who believe that you can believe anything you'd like and call it whatever you like. There really is no place in heathenism for that kind of relativism.