Ásatrú, Seiðr & Víðarr

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Scholars today often fail to see the continuity of the belief system of our forebears through the ages, and thus often claim every new thing that seems to appear is a result of some alien influence, usually an invasion by some fictional people or even a complete replacement of the former population.

One might wonder if they claim this because they have a sinister agenda, or perhaps only because they have been programmed to behave in a certain (politically correct) manner, and especially so in relation to European cultures.

What we should do though, when we approach our own culture, is to understand that there is a thin red line through all of it, through all ages and all European cultures. Everything is basically the same, but there are four different ways of seeing it.

The key to the oldest sources is to know that in the most ancient of times our forebears were hunter-gatherers and believed in spirits (sorcery). After that we see the introduction of both agriculture and deities (religion) as we know them today. Not all hunter-gatherers became agriculturalists though, and not all agriculturalists replaced their belief in spirits with a belief in deities.

So there were four different cultures based around the same original culture: a hunter-gatherer sorcery culture, a hunter-gatherer religious culture, an agricultural sorcery culture and an agricultural religious culture.

Further, these cultures didn’t or didn’t always replace the older dominating culture, but often existed alongside each other — often at the same place.

Although simplified, it works well to define these four like this:

 

Seiðr (belief in spirits/sorcery) + Veiðr (hunter-gatherer) = The old tradition

Seiðr (belief in spirits/sorcery) + Byggjandi (agriculturalist) = The tradition

Ásatrú (belief in deities/religion) + Veiðr (hunter-gatherer) = The old religion

Ásatrú (belief in deities/religion) + Byggjandi (agriculturalist) = The religion

 

When we do that we can look at the high festivals, myths and other traditions and make so much more sense of them.

Knowing this it e. g. makes sense that the spirit of the forest is pictured as an elk in Scandinavian rock carvings, but is described as a deity, Víðarr (“wood”, “forest”), some thousand years later. We know they are the same, simply by looking at other names for Víðarr: he was known also as Elgr, which of course means “elk”.

 

Norwegian: Elg

Norse: Elgr

Proto-nordic: *AlgiR

Proto-Germanic: *Algiz

Proto-Indo-European: *Alci

(PS. Latin: Alcis)

 

Even today we call the elk “the king of the forest” in Scandinavia. Well, now you know why…

So when you see petroglyphs with images of elks in Scandinavia, they are Bronze- or Stone Age depictions of Víðarr, the silent god of the forest. Or if you like: when you read myths about Víðarr, you read about the elk in the petroglyphs. What you know about one of these ages can be transferred to the other.

When you possess this key you might be able to see a large four-dimensional picture, rather than just tiny two-dimensional fragments of it.

HailaR WôðanaR!

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34 thoughts on “Ásatrú, Seiðr & Víðarr

  1. Pingback: Ásatrú, Seiðr & Víðarr | Magyar Thulean Perspective

  2. In the Myth about Perseus we can see that the Hero during his journey meets the Graeae. They live in a cave where is impossible to see either the Sun and the Moon (the Burial Mound). The Graeae are often mentioned as two or three sisters (the three Sorceresses/Priestesses inside the Mound). They are called “Virgins similar to Swans” because they dress white clothes, as the dead inside the mound…they had to, in order to stay in the Reign of the Dead (the Burial Mound). They had all together only one Eye (the Mistletoe/Baldr) and one teeth. Perseus (the young initiate) steal their eye (the Mistletoe) in order to have the key to properly remain in the world of the dead and to force the three Graeae to reveal him how to kill and where to find the Gorgon Medusa (that is how to be reborn as one of his ancestors and kill the Winter Spirit Hodr/Fenrir, i.e. Medusa).

  3. I know it’s not related to the subject, but, when are you going to launch both “MYFAROG” and “THE WAYS OF YORE” for sale?
    and also : What’s your opinion on basques?
    thank you.

  4. Pingback: Ásatrú, Seiðr и Víðarr | The Call of Thule

  5. Goethe’s poem ‘Alder king’ comes to mind. Do you think the word ‘alder’ is somehow related to ‘algiR’ and ‘elk’?

  6. I have always connected different understanding of a teaching/religion to the concept of caste (stender in Norwegian), but this is quite interesting. I think I will pick up your newest book and read it once more. These articles on TP will make the book even more interesting, I think.

  7. “One might wonder if they claim this because they have a sinister agenda, or perhaps only because they have been programmed to behave in a certain (politically correct) manner, and especially so in relation to European cultures”.

    They think that our forebears were primitive and stupid and science/ technology is key and solution to everything and best thing ever.

  8. Yes , when coming to mythological animals ; it’s the ‘Elg’ that comes to my mind .
    Also when thinking about ‘Elg’ and ‘Elk’….’Eg’ and ‘Ek’ comes to my mind… ( I am )

  9. I think I would tend to the old tradition, but I am not sure. Btw. Everytime when I read about Vidarr it seemed to me as If I read about myself. I always wander in the forest. I do not talk much and when I talk I do it not loud, like the silent god Vidarr. This is also a reason why I like being in the forest, it does not want me to talk with it.

    • Isn’t the elk highly regarded as an animal in Finland (folklore and all)? And no I’m not referring to elk stew 🙂

      • I definitely remember reading a Finnish folk story about an elk. It was ages ago and sadly I can’t remember much. But the elk was there, for sure 😉

  10. It seems that their practices for procuring food would have greatly influenced their religious systems. Hunter-gatherer societies would have been more vague, broader, and open to chance; whereas the practice of agriculture would be more refined and regimented, hence the greater specificity given to spirits by way of deities. This explains the two-dimensional aspect. The four-dimensional aspect makes sense in that they would overlap. I suppose the challenge I would face is coming up with examples for all four variations. Perhaps though, I don’t need to know about the examples of the variations even if my curiousity beckons me. Actually, I think that there is something to be lost in needing greater specifity, perhaps. Does one understand more than the other? Look at us now in our advanced scientific age, unable to understand petroglyphs, and even mythology and fairy tales. A square peg in a round hole. Some of this must be due to the bardic tradition being halted by Christian domination, but I would imagine the hunter-gatherer lifestyle would be more conducive to a more direct spiritual realization, and understanding.

  11. Am I the only one who has noticed the modern insistence on complete subjectivity? Everything is painted as either black or white, the same or completely different. I think this is Christianity’s influence, and it’s a huge obstacle to re-adaptation of paganism.

  12. Pingback: Ásatrú, Seiðr, y Víðarr | Hermandad Pagana

  13. This is why I love your perspective on the old ways. You take a very “Ur” view of things. SO many heathens these days get stuck on the “viking period” as being the only correct snapshot of belief…I suppose because that is the period from which we get a lot of literature. But where is the fun in that? Digging deep and trying to establish connections WAY BACK is way more satisfying…though I suppose I don’t need to tell you that.

  14. I remember reading through a Norse mythology book a while ago and being intrigued about how the author claimed that all of the myths had an origin from Asia. Now naturally, I didn’t think this could be possible and was just pure propaganda, but I had no other source to compare this to because the so-called scholars all repeat the same belief. I could not understand why the author would make such a claim when it is obvious that all of the European mythologies have a common Indo-European origin. From what I remember, the book claimed that the Æsir–Vanir War was based on a foreign Asian invasion (from “Asaland”) and that Odin was originally an Asian god and that the Asians were responsible for the creation of all of our myths and deities. How can anyone believe such an asinine claim? And yet they all repeat the same claim: we Europeans are too dumb to have created our own myths and deities.

    I also read through a version of the Poetic Edda where the author persistently claimed that all of the poems were written by Christians! Am I supposed to believe that it was the glorious Christians who are responsible for the preservation of our eddic lore and that the Scandinavians were too dumb to know about their own religion?

    • Well, the Eddic Manuscripts, our only source for the Eddic Poems date all from the XIIIth century, more than 200 years after the conversion of Iceland which is where the manuscripts were written. The poems themselves, we have strictly no idea who wrote them, that’s that simple, but some appear to have been influenced by a number a christian idea, most notably Völuspå. See for example John Mc Kinnel “Voluspa and the feast of Easter” and the Editions of Ursula Dronke for some information on such theories.

      • Yes, I realize that they originate from Iceland after it’s conversion. This does not answer the question, however, of how much of the Eddic lore has been rewritten and interpolated with Christian ideas. The writings may have been preserved by Christians, but just reading through the Eddas clearly shows that they were originally authored by heathens. Since Christian morals and ideas derive significantly from Pagans, it can be difficult to distinguish what was originally written and what parts of the text were altered and interpolated.

        • I wholeheartedly agree with that statement. Saying that the Poetic (as the Prose Edda is most certainly the work of a Christian) Edda were written by Christians is just wrong. A great read in that sense is “heathenism in Völuspå” by again, John McKinnell, he shows very well that the wealth of Pagan theological elements in the poem cannot originate from a Christian mind. In addition, such methodology is very useful when analyzing other similar texts.

  15. I’ve been thinking in what should been better for myself. I thought, the agriculture is something totally natural, and also exist in our myths (like the Sif’s hairs, the wheat), this is (maybe) one of the reasons for I decide the agriculture as the best.
    Regarding to sorcery/religion, the sorcery believed only in spirits, id est, they (the spirits) weren’t anthropomorphized, but in the majority of the festivals, they were! That souls/spirits take a body, and the people which had the spirits in himself, was in fact a deity! After, the spirits were totally anthropomorphized and was impossible the existence of a spirit without a human body, that body was possessed by the May King!

    • Varg,

      Where does this belief stem from or where did you come up with this notion of these 4 different cultures? It seems to make complete sense in terms of some of the things we know (some of the very few) ideas we have about the past. I’m just curious as to why you believe it is that above mix?

      • Also, when you define spirits what precisely does that mean in the above context(the context of spirits to a hunter-gatherer? I ask because I haven’t really come across anything that points to how or why they would believe in “spirits”. I suppose you can hypothesize but again…just curious where this belief comes from in your opinion.

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