Do we as modern heathens need a new theology and philosophy?

By Per Lundberg Gode in Samfundet Forn Sed Sweden
This rant is in response to Frigga Asraaf in the IASC Herald pre-camp 2018 wrote about in Theology versus Philosophy and also this thread goes further back to Karl E. H. Seigfrieds article A Better Burden: Towards a New Ásatrú Theology

This text has been published in
IASC Herald # 8 post-camp 2018, 44 pages, PDF, app. 28,526 MB the Herald of IASC, International Asatru Summercamp post IASC 2018. By the Asatru-EU.

Just for clarification in this text I use the word heathenry as being the same to forn sed and asatru. I am aware that both groups and individuals think these words have different meanings, but just to simplify the writing of this text, I have chosen to just use the word heathenry.

Now onto the subject at hand.

Let’s break down the title a bit! New – as I think of this word; its modern, current in our times. Also reaching forward in time, not looking backwards at what has been. When one thinks of the word new its almost an automatic connection to the word old as a contrast to new. So in this way of thinking and with the value of heathenry is something old and that we current heathens are ‘carrying the torch of the old’. Of the theology that the “old ones” had, we have just to little sources of to make any conclusive and multifaceted sense of. Conclusions are very much a projection from us moderns upon the ‘old ones’. The words old ones is to denote all the various time periods and over large geographic area that we can denote our spiritual path from. Very broad indeed and that is the way it is, as I assume that you that are reading this have some prior knowledge about the history of Germanic/Scandinavian heathenry. This
might come as a shocker to you, but much of the heathenry today is new. Yes we do have quite a lot left but that is more like a skeleton of some base that we in current era base a spirituality/religion upon today. The bones of the old need nervous system, muscles, blood vessels and respiratory system. The metaphor is also of value as our religion and tradition needs nourishment, digestive and respiratory systems and importantly ways to get rid of waste. The need for the state of mind that heathenry of today is as the old ones did in the past is a easy to understand the need for. We live in times that are in turmoil. Many become heathens in part because the monotheistic way. Of power monopoly and claiming to be the “only right” religion. Of course we need to move further in to having a functioning spirituality and religion. Modern heathenry has been going on since the 1970-ties. As far as I know, sure there might have been some small groups here and there. Heathenry of current times are less than fifty years in the active making! Most heathens have been ‘at it’ for ten to thirty years. We are no longer a anti-movement, but a for and then in the common threads of heathenry exploring, practising and evolving heathenry is the focus of value. Since I became active selfidentifying heathen in the late 1990-ies, I have clearly seen a lot of development. Twenty years ago there was much more talk about what heathens are not. The last ten years there has been a definite shift in content, in practice, in theology and philosophy.

Need – do we as a pluralistic network of heathens need theology / philosophy today? Quite honestly, we already have a lot of it! What I find
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that we do not have is open, conscious and brave conversations and discourse of our multifaceted heathen theology. Philosophy is the values one has and they govern the conscious and subconscious actions we continuously make each day and hour and surely every minute as well!

Philosophy – system of values and views on life, it’s the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. To specify, does the network of groups and organizations of heathens need a common philosophy? I think we do need a more conscious and expressed moral and ethical framework. That all the groups and all individuals would be able to have one common philosophy/theology is just a silly notion as it is impossible! Its neither doable nor of interest. There is no one-size-fits-all, that way of thinking does not suite heathenry, but a flexible system of common views. As I ponder and reflect, I see that we already have a system of values. How can I say this? – Well, simply enough; all that anyone does is done from the values one has. Be they conscious and subconscious values. Most of the values have been incorporated and that ‘program’ used so many times that they are on autopilot. To make these systems of values more in the light is importance and of value. Just to give an example of what we do have. Perhaps many of us are to in it and cannot see the forest for the trees. One observation I make is that we stand in a circle during blot. Why? And to what purpose? What does that tell us about ourselves? What is needed in my opinion is a discourse, or many conversations, on screens (Netheim as I jokingly like to call it) in books and conversations off screen. I suggest that many persons in different countries and organisations observe different behaviour that heathens do. Boil this down and discuss and write down the value
system that these behaviours are based upon.

The need-fire burns in the individual heatheners heart. The development of theology ought to have spiritual and religious practice as its platform. Perhaps heathens that have the same fulltrui could communicate and share and develop more common spiritual practice and written description of their relationship to their fulltrui. It’s just an idea!

Theology – is pluralistic in nature and I think that heathens need to understand its forms and adopt a flexible attitude. The word pluriform is a good word, meaning many forms in one great whole! This is most likely what it was during the era of the old ones and I think should be also today. Furthermore, what I do believe we modern heathens need to be doing more is to write and dare to ask the pertinent questions. Those that do open up more possibilities and explore both theology and philosophy that which we have today and that which we can create together with the “shining ones” From the coaching that I know, asking questions is the path to open up the matrix thoughts and system of values, and to explore the needwebb about a subject matter. So just using only the words theology and philosophy does not help us. We need to be able to apply and open up the value-webb and ask questions like:

  • Can you tell me about Freja?
  • Please tell me about the characteristics of Freja.
  • If you pray/talk with Freja, what do you say or talk about?
  • When holding a blot to Freja, what words to her do you say and why?
  • Do you have a fulltrui, can you tell me about her/him?
  • What subject would be wrong to talk to Freja about?

Philosophical questions can be:

  • How does fate and free will interact with each other in your life?
  • What is the collective purpose of humans in the scheme of old Norse myths of working up to Ragnarok and on through to Idavallen?
  • How is collective purpose different from individual purpose?
  • Does that which is manifested in words and actions just that which is supposed to happen?

Through the reflection and the practice the mo
dern heathenry, asatru, forn sed, can grow as each individual grows and dies piece by piece. The oak of current heathenry is but young, but roots that reaches beyond the now. The bone structure of the old can more and more receive the systems of life, nerves, blood vessels, heart, lungs etc. The need for practice of our ways and grow together aids us in the exploration that lies ahead. Each conversation, each blot and workshop held, each book and article written is adding to heathenry today!

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1 Thanks Robert Lewis of the Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, for a great way of expression and perception of the deities! https://www.adf.org/

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