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Author Topic: Physical Fitness and Heathenry  (Read 2700 times)

hraefngar

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Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« on: January 13, 2017, 07:53:04 pm »
I have not done a scientific survey, but informally speaking it seems like weightlifting is pretty prevalent within Heathenry/Asatru. Perhaps more so than in other pagan faiths.

I have adduced two main reasons.  One is the "warrior mentality" that  (for better or for worse) often accompanies Asatru.  The other is the popularity of the "Vikings" TV show and admiration for its fit cast members. The character of Lagertha in particular seems to be inspiring many women to get into weights, take up martial arts, and train to be "shield maidens."  

Let me use this as a jumping off point for a discussion.  I used to be a sedentary book worm and eschew physical exercise.  But then I started following Odin.  While I would never be called to be a warrior per se, it was impressed upon me that some physical conditioning would do me well.  So I started lifting weights seriously: in 2 years or so I became one of the stronger guys in the gym.  I feel better, and I have noticed the physical conditioning helps with stress and mental concentration (which helps if you're trying to work magic with Odin).  

How many of you are into some kind of physical training regimen, and if you are, do you tie it to spiritual or cultural values within Heathenry?

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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2017, 02:28:11 am »
Quote from: hraefngar;201412
I have not done a scientific survey, but informally speaking it seems like weightlifting is pretty prevalent within Heathenry/Asatru. Perhaps more so than in other pagan faiths.

I have adduced two main reasons.  One is the "warrior mentality" that  (for better or for worse) often accompanies Asatru.  The other is the popularity of the "Vikings" TV show and admiration for its fit cast members. The character of Lagertha in particular seems to be inspiring many women to get into weights, take up martial arts, and train to be "shield maidens."  

Let me use this as a jumping off point for a discussion.  I used to be a sedentary book worm and eschew physical exercise.  But then I started following Odin.  While I would never be called to be a warrior per se, it was impressed upon me that some physical conditioning would do me well.  So I started lifting weights seriously: in 2 years or so I became one of the stronger guys in the gym.  I feel better, and I have noticed the physical conditioning helps with stress and mental concentration (which helps if you're trying to work magic with Odin).  

How many of you are into some kind of physical training regimen, and if you are, do you tie it to spiritual or cultural values within Heathenry?


I certainly wouldn't call anything I do remotely close to a "training regimen", but I do seem to exercise enough to be able to easily enjoy physical activity.

The most direct way that physical activity would tie into my religious practice is through my love of hiking in the Rockies. These mountains have been a source of awe for me for a long time before I was Heathen, and I think my acceptance of Heathenry is strongly tied to the fact that it gave me a framework to cultivate and express my religious feeling towards these mountains.

(Both the worship of landvaetter/wights related to wilderness areas, and, what is from my perspective, a healthy fear of the wilderness in historical Heathen populations, match quite well with the combination of love, awe, and fear I feel towards the mountains).

Aside from that I don't see a major direct relationship between Heathenry and exercise.

However, since there is a strong focus in Heathenry on one's basic daily social relationships, the fact that exercise helps to provide a degree of mental health and clarity which makes those relationships work more smoothly is, I suppose, a useful indirect link for me between exercise and religion.
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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2017, 05:11:30 am »
Quote from: hraefngar;201412
I have not done a scientific survey, but informally speaking it seems like weightlifting is pretty prevalent within Heathenry/Asatru. Perhaps more so than in other pagan faiths.

I have adduced two main reasons.  One is the "warrior mentality" that  (for better or for worse) often accompanies Asatru.  The other is the popularity of the "Vikings" TV show and admiration for its fit cast members. The character of Lagertha in particular seems to be inspiring many women to get into weights, take up martial arts, and train to be "shield maidens."  

Let me use this as a jumping off point for a discussion.  I used to be a sedentary book worm and eschew physical exercise.  But then I started following Odin.  While I would never be called to be a warrior per se, it was impressed upon me that some physical conditioning would do me well.  So I started lifting weights seriously: in 2 years or so I became one of the stronger guys in the gym.  I feel better, and I have noticed the physical conditioning helps with stress and mental concentration (which helps if you're trying to work magic with Odin).  

How many of you are into some kind of physical training regimen, and if you are, do you tie it to spiritual or cultural values within Heathenry?

 

Weightlifting in and of itself has very little to do with general fitness and way more to do with the conspicuous appearance of fitness and very much goal-driven. Not knocking on it, as I can appreciate the satisfaction of gains in the gym and of the mental state one gets while working out.

Any connection between it and heathenry is very much a US phenomenon, I suspect. Over here, you are much more likely to see a heathen going on a hike or nature walk or cross-country skiing when the snow is heavy and all is silent.

Myself, I have a difficult time connecting "exercise for the sake of exercise" with belief in the vetter/wights, etc. "Exercise secondary to getting fresh air and being in nature", I can easily draw the connection as one is much closer to the secret places in the world while out hiking.

I'm curious to hear how others can make the connection that I can't seem to get my brain to bridge. It's obviously there for some folks, but I just can't see it myself.
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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2017, 06:04:18 pm »
Quote from: hraefngar;201412
I have not done a scientific survey, but informally speaking it seems like weightlifting is pretty prevalent within Heathenry/Asatru. Perhaps more so than in other pagan faiths.

I have adduced two main reasons.  One is the "warrior mentality" that  (for better or for worse) often accompanies Asatru.  The other is the popularity of the "Vikings" TV show and admiration for its fit cast members. The character of Lagertha in particular seems to be inspiring many women to get into weights, take up martial arts, and train to be "shield maidens."  

Let me use this as a jumping off point for a discussion.  I used to be a sedentary book worm and eschew physical exercise.  But then I started following Odin.  While I would never be called to be a warrior per se, it was impressed upon me that some physical conditioning would do me well.  So I started lifting weights seriously: in 2 years or so I became one of the stronger guys in the gym.  I feel better, and I have noticed the physical conditioning helps with stress and mental concentration (which helps if you're trying to work magic with Odin).  

How many of you are into some kind of physical training regimen, and if you are, do you tie it to spiritual or cultural values within Heathenry?

I'm an avid crossfiter, and workout about 5 days a week. I do tie it to my spirituality.  My body is a temple, and should be treated as such. I mainly exercise for my wellbeing and to honor my Gods and ancestors. It's also my mental therapy. It keeps my sain, and helps with my anxiety disorder.
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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2017, 06:10:39 am »
Quote from: hraefngar;201412

How many of you are into some kind of physical training regimen, and if you are, do you tie it to spiritual or cultural values within Heathenry?

I strongly feel the connection between heathenry and physical excersize. As stated by cryfder, my body is my temple. I have done crossfit and bootcamp in the past but atm unfortunately not in the position to go back to the box I trained with. I really do miss it and wish I had a buddy to go with.

I disagree with Allaya. If weightlifting is done correct you are using your whole body, especially your core muscles to keep you balanced. These core muscles are the most important muscles to keep you fit and healthy.
The crossfit and bootcamp community is somewhat tied with battle religions here in the Netherlands as Viking runs and Spartan runs are organised on a regular basis. A lot of emphasis is placed on the battle gods of the Norse in particular. I dont believe half of the people participating in these events are heathens or pagans or what have you. But I do think they all feel somewhat connected to the old battle gods at least during their run or training. It is spiritual to them, even if not religious.

On a side note: I feel the connection between physical excersize in other area's of my pagan belief too. Besides my Heathen interests I have a deep link with Cernunnos who to me is tied to the land, fertility, masculinity and sexuality. Sexual excersize is an act of worship to him.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2017, 06:13:48 am by Vixen »
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Allaya

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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2017, 08:18:48 am »
Quote from: Vixen;201451
I disagree with Allaya. If weightlifting is done correct you are using your whole body, especially your core muscles to keep you balanced. These core muscles are the most important muscles to keep you fit and healthy.


My thoughts on the matter was formed mainly from a series of discussions with a couple of gym trainers, for what it's worth. Weightlifting "done correctly" according to them involved doing a bunch of things that are not weightlifting in order to strengthen the cardiovascular system (in order to support the strain of lifting) and to train up the core in ways that straight-up lifting cannot.

But opinions are like buttholes...everyone has 'em, including myself. I'm not really interested in the "fitness wars" aspect of the discussion, so eh.

Anyways, it's been very interesting to read how others connect the concepts. I suspect I will never be able to relate to it personally, but that's not a requirement when looking to understand why others relate to it just fine.

I'm curious as to why the "VIKINGS!" and "BATTLE!" aspects have become so prominent, aside from the coolness/badass factor, when the bulk of the (if you'll excuse the joke) heavy lifting in Scandic practices were way more of the agricultural, fertility, trade, and good hunting sort.

I'm very interested in the topic and would love to head from more folks about it.
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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2017, 05:42:42 pm »
Quote from: Allaya;201513
I'm curious as to why the "VIKINGS!" and "BATTLE!" aspects have become so prominent, aside from the coolness/badass factor, when the bulk of the (if you'll excuse the joke) heavy lifting in Scandic practices were way more of the agricultural, fertility, trade, and good hunting sort.

I've wondered this too, and I've basically come to the conclusion that this impulse is something that has very little outlet in our modern culture.

But even though the warrior mentality is not particularly prevalent, people still feel it. And people so inclined search for and--with varying degrees of success--find it in weightlifting or CrossFit or martial arts / MMA or the military.

Asatru and heathenry is about the only religion I can think of that remotely has that warrior mentality tied to it, through the misrepresentation of Vikings in horned helmets, probably ren faires, and by the fact of having a comics superhero character inspired by one of its main gods.
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hraefngar

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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2017, 09:27:01 pm »
Quote from: Allaya;201513

I'm curious as to why the "VIKINGS!" and "BATTLE!" aspects have become so prominent, aside from the coolness/badass factor, when the bulk of the (if you'll excuse the joke) heavy lifting in Scandic practices were way more of the agricultural, fertility, trade, and good hunting sort.

 
I can think of three somewhat-interlocking reasons:


1) People read the Eddas first, and some people will never read anything else.  What is the principle god whose survives in the Eddas? Odin.  What is the principle theme uniting the surviving Eddic Lore? Ragnarok.   For people who have a limited understanding of the religion - and particularly for Americans who may not grow up surrounded by folk traditions, like you Europeans - there is a tunnel vision aspect of Heathenry that focuses on Ragnarok and the warrior values that underpin it.  

2) There is an extremely high presence of military veterans within Asatru (at least within the US, not sure about Europe).  It's natural that some of these people bring that warrior mentality with them.

3) The average Asatruar tends to be a little more "conservative" in socio-political terms than the average neopagan (at least within the US, I can't speak for Europe).  A lot of Asatruar who come from reasons 1 and 2 above see the religion as helping to support "rugged masculine individualism" whereas they may see other pagan religions, particularly Wicca, as catering to more feminine and pacifist values they don't necessarily share.

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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2017, 11:28:55 pm »
Quote from: hraefngar;201412
I have not done a scientific survey, but informally speaking it seems like weightlifting is pretty prevalent within Heathenry/Asatru. Perhaps more so than in other pagan faiths.

 
Aside from the "RAWR, WARRIORS! I'M A VIKING!" kind of mentality, there's also the fact that part of the Havamal mentality is "get it done" and "DIY". If you end up in a situation where you need to carry an injured family member, pull yourself up from a cliffs edge, or some other kind of emergency, then you're almost expected to be able to do just that. There's a lot of focus in the Sagas on being able to pull through in tight situations and I think that's definitely part of the Heathen mindset.

I personally would lean more towards Parkour as the most useful training method in the modern age. Though weight lifting does look like a lot of fun.
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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2017, 11:54:41 pm »
Quote from: Cryfder;201443
I'm an avid crossfiter, and workout about 5 days a week. I do tie it to my spirituality.  My body is a temple, and should be treated as such. I mainly exercise for my wellbeing and to honor my Gods and ancestors. It's also my mental therapy. It keeps my sain, and helps with my anxiety disorder.

 
While I wouldn't call it part of my spirituality or religion per se I will say I see it much the same way Cryfder does but with a touch more spirituality than he stated.

This is because when I was approximately 20 years old I was shaving before work one day when it suddenly hit me that I had to look up at the ceiling to shave my neck.

After looking for about two weeks for a scale that went high enough to not give me an error or just spin uselessly, I found a truck scale at a recycling place. I tipped the scales that day at 590 pounds.

That day I realized that I could keep eating myself to death or change. It has been nearly 20 years since then and while I am still around 315 pounds, my waistline continues to shrink and I am getting stronger than ever. [For those keeping score, 315 pounds and approximately 6 feet 3 inches tall, very dense body and very high bone mass. I've been told repeatedly that I look nearly 50 pounds lighter than I am. I'd say I've done pretty well myself.] I have worked especially hard since I found Heathenry primarily because of the desire to be able to handle my own affairs in a fight without help so that I can protect myself and my loved ones just as I used to, and because I believe it is an insult to my ancestors to so have so horribly neglected the gift of heritage they gave me.
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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2017, 03:38:46 am »
Quote from: Skumring;201558
While I wouldn't call it part of my spirituality or religion per se I will say I see it much the same way Cryfder does but with a touch more spirituality than he stated.

This is because when I was approximately 20 years old I was shaving before work one day when it suddenly hit me that I had to look up at the ceiling to shave my neck.

After looking for about two weeks for a scale that went high enough to not give me an error or just spin uselessly, I found a truck scale at a recycling place. I tipped the scales that day at 590 pounds.

That day I realized that I could keep eating myself to death or change. It has been nearly 20 years since then and while I am still around 315 pounds, my waistline continues to shrink and I am getting stronger than ever. [For those keeping score, 315 pounds and approximately 6 feet 3 inches tall, very dense body and very high bone mass. I've been told repeatedly that I look nearly 50 pounds lighter than I am. I'd say I've done pretty well myself.] I have worked especially hard since I found Heathenry primarily because of the desire to be able to handle my own affairs in a fight without help so that I can protect myself and my loved ones just as I used to, and because I believe it is an insult to my ancestors to so have so horribly neglected the gift of heritage they gave me.

 
That is absolutely awesome! Well done! Allthough I don't need to lose quite that much I know the struggle.  I am trying to go down from 205 to 175 atm.
Keep up the good work, I'm proud of you. :thup:
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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #11 on: January 18, 2017, 11:12:53 pm »
Quote from: Vixen;201563
That is absolutely awesome! Well done! Allthough I don't need to lose quite that much I know the struggle.  I am trying to go down from 205 to 175 atm.
Keep up the good work, I'm proud of you. :thup:

 
Thank you! I have to admit that in the last two years a lot of that progress is to the credit of a local herbalist. I had to address some residual emotional issues [using herbs of all things] and after that it was a lot easier.
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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2017, 03:37:13 pm »
Quote from: hraefngar;201412
I have not done a scientific survey, but informally speaking it seems like weightlifting is pretty prevalent within Heathenry/Asatru. Perhaps more so than in other pagan faiths.

I have adduced two main reasons.  One is the "warrior mentality" that  (for better or for worse) often accompanies Asatru.  The other is the popularity of the "Vikings" TV show and admiration for its fit cast members. The character of Lagertha in particular seems to be inspiring many women to get into weights, take up martial arts, and train to be "shield maidens."  

Let me use this as a jumping off point for a discussion.  I used to be a sedentary book worm and eschew physical exercise.  But then I started following Odin.  While I would never be called to be a warrior per se, it was impressed upon me that some physical conditioning would do me well.  So I started lifting weights seriously: in 2 years or so I became one of the stronger guys in the gym.  I feel better, and I have noticed the physical conditioning helps with stress and mental concentration (which helps if you're trying to work magic with Odin).  

How many of you are into some kind of physical training regimen, and if you are, do you tie it to spiritual or cultural values within Heathenry?
I agree that physical fitness seems more prevalent in the heathen community, and yes the warrior mentality seems to be the cause/driving factor.  I myself have been called and became dedicated to Odin myself ( and of course the rest of the Æsir and Vanir), and they're to be healthier and more physically fit is there. I just personally don't have the time to do it anymore.

I think an interesting question would be, do heathens begin working out and being healthy, before or after they are called to the Gods.

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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2017, 10:17:53 am »
Quote from: hraefngar;201412


How many of you are into some kind of physical training regimen, and if you are, do you tie it to spiritual or cultural values within Heathenry?

 
Though I am not technically Heathen - as my description says "Hindu with a smattering of Heathenry" - I'll weigh in (no pun intended).

I've been a weight lifter, power lifting, for many years. Only in the past few years it has fallen by the wayside due to lumbar problems and a fusion. Oddly the injuries were not from the gym. In the past two years or so I've slacked off all dieting and training, and gotten fat and lazy.

This does disturb me given that Thor and Hanuman are my two favorite deities of the Norse and Hindu pantheons. They represent strength and fitness - both almost always being depicted as large and muscular - which is something I always strove for. Thor is the more burly beefy powerlifter icon, Hanuman is more the bodybuilder icon. I made promises to both of them to continue my training, but I failed. Fortunately, I don't think they have been displeased, knowing human nature, failings and problems. Especially because I do wish to get back on track.

But anyway, I think it depends on the deity(ies) one is drawn to. I can't say for sure, but I think that someone drawn to Bragi or Odin might not place much emphasis on a fitness regimen, considering they are gods of intellect. Someone drawn to Ullr, Freyr, Thor might be more into physical pursuits. With the notable exception of Kubera, the Hindu god of wealth, almost all the deities are depicted in some state of prime physical fitness. Consider the spiritual wars fought by Rama, Krishna, Shiva, Durga, Kali. They'd have to be pretty physically fit to fight all those demons and bad people. Narasimha (lit. man-lion), an avatar of Vishnu is... well, half man half lion. Do the math. ;)
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Re: Physical Fitness and Heathenry
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2017, 11:06:47 am »
Quote from: hraefngar;201412
I have not done a scientific survey, but informally speaking it seems like weightlifting is pretty prevalent within Heathenry/Asatru. Perhaps more so than in other pagan faiths.

I have adduced two main reasons.  One is the "warrior mentality" that  (for better or for worse) often accompanies Asatru.  The other is the popularity of the "Vikings" TV show and admiration for its fit cast members. The character of Lagertha in particular seems to be inspiring many women to get into weights, take up martial arts, and train to be "shield maidens."  

Let me use this as a jumping off point for a discussion.  I used to be a sedentary book worm and eschew physical exercise.  But then I started following Odin.  While I would never be called to be a warrior per se, it was impressed upon me that some physical conditioning would do me well.  So I started lifting weights seriously: in 2 years or so I became one of the stronger guys in the gym.  I feel better, and I have noticed the physical conditioning helps with stress and mental concentration (which helps if you're trying to work magic with Odin).  

How many of you are into some kind of physical training regimen, and if you are, do you tie it to spiritual or cultural values within Heathenry?

 
I'm given to understand that fat Heathens are exiled to a small, remote Norwegian island where they are forced to fight for survival.

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