Restoring Asgardh’s Honor
by Gunther Hrafngrim
Note: This is the first in a series of short articles dealing with the subject matter of the Ravenswood Kindred Oath. Others in the series will include the following: On the taking of oaths; Kinship in today’s kindreds; Freedom of expression within the bounds of an established kindred; Magic, metal, and mayhem – The place of viking age tools and trades in today’s Asatru; Us and Them – Modern Asatru and Christianity; Modern Asatru – A vision for the future.
Honor – it is a strong part of the human psyche. Many of the wars and movements throughout history have been directly attributable to notions of honor. It is fitting to begin life in a kindred with an oath to restore the honor of our folk, both because it is such a central part of our religious doctrine, and because it is an integral part of our heritage. What is honor? Webster describes honor as having a good name or public esteem – Reputation. I think we all can see how this impacts us today. We have 1500 years of defamation to redress, and an incredible gulf of alienation to bridge.
What is the wound to Asgardh’s honor, really? To me, the greatest injustice in the last 1500 years has been the ridicule the heathen faith has been subjected to. Our religion has been held up as an example of how barbaric and backward the human race can be. Our ancestors were no more barbaric than any one else from that period of history. The civilised Romans entertained themselves by gladiatorial games, and the middle east was the scene of many bloody wars and purges.
Our ancestors lived in a barbaric time, under barbaric conditions. They were typically isolated from each other, with stronger tribal bonds than sort of national consciousness. In the main, the peoples who practiced the germanic religions in ancient times were peaceful farmers who wanted to make a better life for their decendents, and keep their lands inviolate from other tribes or nations. They lived in dangerous times, where the unguarded were dead or enslaved. The solidarity of the family and kin was the only thing which stood between them and chaos. The religion which grew from their experiences reflected the reality of their lives, and encouraged strength, honor, pride, and the sanctity of kinship, as a way to survive. There was nothing inherently wrong with the native faith of the germanic peoples, its deities were not evil, its followers were not beasts or souless criminals. There is much of value in the faith of our ancestors, much that is relevant to our lives today.
Our people have been denied knowledge of their ancestral faith for too long. The defamation of Asgardh’s honor must stop, and the value of our religion recognized. It is the task before us to reclaim a portion of our religious dignity. It is NOT our duty to convert the non-heathen. There is room in the world for both Christianity and Asatru, and each have value in the modern world. We do not need to degrade another religion in order to advance our own. The new faith of Asatru must be a shining example of how tolerance can be mixed with strength. It is our task to leave a world behind us in which our descendents may freely choose the faith that best fits their spiritual needs. A world where Asatru may take its rightful place among the religions of mankind. This will eliminate the stain on Asgardh’s honor, and give true honor to our people, our culture, our ancestors, and our gods.