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Author Topic: Aesir/Vanir  (Read 2630 times)

maerecatha

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Aesir/Vanir
« on: October 23, 2012, 08:08:14 pm »
So, in my reading (mostly on the internet, finding books on this in local libraries is difficult... I had to pay to get "Real Magic" through ILL), both now and years ago when I knew myths by heart, I know about the Aesir and Vanir as different groups of gods and goddesses.

It seems that usually one works solely with Aesir, or solely with Vanir.

Can someone who considers themself Asatru or Heathen, work with both?

Also from some articles about Asatru I have read, they strongly discourage any other pantheons (to the point of some having it as a tenant of the Troth that others aren't to be worshipped/worked with/what have you). Now, I recognize the confusion that could arise from invoking multiple deities from multiple pantheons in one ritual, but it sees to me from my study of Norse mythology, that of all the pantheons out there... the Norse gods would be the least offended of someone working with another god or goddess.

Please don't take this as an attempt to be difficult... merely an attempt to understand. Why does one have to completely forsake every other deity? What if there is another out there that they have a connection with... say, overall, they feel that Asatru or Heathenry is right for them, and what they believe... except sometimes they want to honour or work with this other deity, for whatever personal reason they may have.

I mean, yes, cow's milk all the way, but that doesn't necessarily preclude me from drinking goat's milk, now, does it? (Well, aside from the fact I don't like it)

Or does that simply mean that you *have* to be eclectic, unless you're willing to take a "leap of faith" (something that's a little too fundamentalist for me)?

Thanks for bearing with me as I attempt to somewhat rationally phrase the questions spinning in the swirling eddies of my mind.
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Rhyshadow

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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2012, 08:37:34 pm »
Quote from: Drakensdottir;77834
So, in my reading (mostly on the internet, finding books on this in local libraries is difficult... I had to pay to get "Real Magic" through ILL), both now and years ago when I knew myths by heart, I know about the Aesir and Vanir as different groups of gods and goddesses.

It seems that usually one works solely with Aesir, or solely with Vanir.

Can someone who considers themself Asatru or Heathen, work with both?

Also from some articles about Asatru I have read, they strongly discourage any other pantheons (to the point of some having it as a tenant of the Troth that others aren't to be worshipped/worked with/what have you). Now, I recognize the confusion that could arise from invoking multiple deities from multiple pantheons in one ritual, but it sees to me from my study of Norse mythology, that of all the pantheons out there... the Norse gods would be the least offended of someone working with another god or goddess.

Please don't take this as an attempt to be difficult... merely an attempt to understand. Why does one have to completely forsake every other deity? What if there is another out there that they have a connection with... say, overall, they feel that Asatru or Heathenry is right for them, and what they believe... except sometimes they want to honour or work with this other deity, for whatever personal reason they may have.

I mean, yes, cow's milk all the way, but that doesn't necessarily preclude me from drinking goat's milk, now, does it? (Well, aside from the fact I don't like it)

Or does that simply mean that you *have* to be eclectic, unless you're willing to take a "leap of faith" (something that's a little too fundamentalist for me)?

Thanks for bearing with me as I attempt to somewhat rationally phrase the questions spinning in the swirling eddies of my mind.

 
Personally - why wouldn't you work with both - they became one 'Tribe' through inter-marriage after the battles between them were inconclusive - so they're really part of the same Pantheon

I think that anyone who looks to one side without including the other is missing out on quite a bit of the flavor

and in some respects, you can't forget the Jotunar either, true there were the one's sided with Chaos, but there were the helpful one's as well - gotta take the bad with the good

Lokabrenna

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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2012, 08:47:26 pm »
Quote from: Drakensdottir;77834

It seems that usually one works solely with Aesir, or solely with Vanir.

Can someone who considers themself Asatru or Heathen, work with both?


I don't understand where you're getting that most only work with either group. There are Vanatruar like me who primarily or exclusively honour the Vanir, but the norm in most "mainstream" Heathen groups is to honour both, or particular members of the pantheon that their kindred is close to. I assume this might stem from the misconception that Asatru means "True to the Aesir" but it really doesn't, it just means "True to the Gods" without naming tribal affiliation.

Quote
Also from some articles about Asatru I have read, they strongly discourage any other pantheons (to the point of some having it as a tenant of the Troth that others aren't to be worshipped/worked with/what have you). Now, I recognize the confusion that could arise from invoking multiple deities from multiple pantheons in one ritual, but it sees to me from my study of Norse mythology, that of all the pantheons out there... the Norse gods would be the least offended of someone working with another god or goddess.

Please don't take this as an attempt to be difficult... merely an attempt to understand. Why does one have to completely forsake every other deity? What if there is another out there that they have a connection with... say, overall, they feel that Asatru or Heathenry is right for them, and what they believe... except sometimes they want to honour or work with this other deity, for whatever personal reason they may have.


There is a tendency among reconstructionist groups (I've found) to privilege exclusively dealing with a particular culture, but in all honesty, there's no rule that says that every individual must *only* honour deities in X pantheon. Group policies (like the Troth's policy) are a different matter, but there's no obligation to join a group, either.

Quote
Thanks for bearing with me as I attempt to somewhat rationally phrase the questions spinning in the swirling eddies of my mind.


No problem, this is why we have a beginner's board.

Faemon

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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2012, 09:14:02 pm »
Quote from: Drakensdottir;77834
years ago when I knew myths by heart, I know about the Aesir and Vanir as different groups of gods and goddesses. It seems that usually one works solely with Aesir, or solely with Vanir. Can someone who considers themself Asatru or Heathen, work with both?
O' course you can. Looking around, I see that a lot of Heathens do. Why wouldn't they? Why wouldn't or shouldn't you?
Quote
Also from some articles about Asatru I have read, they strongly discourage any other pantheons (to the point of some having it as a tenant of the Troth that others aren't to be worshipped/worked with/what have you). Why does one have to completely forsake every other deity?
 
As mentioned, lore and the study around it pretty strongly suggests the Aesir and Vanir conducted a major company merger.

Going by personal experience, I was practically pirated from the Celtic pantheon that I was mostly working with. Loki came into my gnosis-notice, disguised as Oenghus Og, which frankly freaked me out. And after... well, my identifying as Rokkatru didn't stop an Aesir like Thor from saying hello. You really want to tell some happy god armed with goats and a hammer who has graced you with theophany, "I'm not allowed to even acknowledge your existence"? Exclusivity Troth... not for me.

But if we're not going by UPG...
Quote
Why does one have to completely forsake every other deity?
Who says you have to?

It's an important question, because that "who" might be... incorrect. So, they wrote an article-- but even if they published a book, what gives them and their written works clout over your faith? Are they held in sky-high repute among Heathens? Where did this even come from with them-- Are they scholars of history or mythology? Are they also going by UPG? What could their motivations be for writing something like that-- (it's not always that "it's true", it could be an ego tripping thing.)? Does it even make logical sense in its own terms? Couldn't it just be their own personal interpretation?

Obviously, you have a different interpretation than they do, that "from my study of Norse mythology, that of all the pantheons out there... the Norse gods would be the least offended of someone working with another god or goddess." -- and it sounds to me like your interpretation is at least equally valid.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 09:17:32 pm by Faemon »
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maerecatha

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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2012, 09:20:38 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;77840
I don't understand where you're getting that most only work with either group. There are Vanatruar like me who primarily or exclusively honour the Vanir, but the norm in most "mainstream" Heathen groups is to honour both, or particular members of the pantheon that their kindred is close to. I assume this might stem from the misconception that Asatru means "True to the Aesir" but it really doesn't, it just means "True to the Gods" without naming tribal affiliation.


I'm not reading Asatru as "True to the Aesir"... I know it means "True to the Gods." There were some kindred sites I found, however, where they were only one or the other. Unfortunately, I don't remember them off the top of my head, as I was reading them at work (hey! I have lulls! I gotta do something to stave off boredom when my borrowers won't send me the documents I need). :(

Thank you for clarifying. I didn't mean to give offence, only trying to understand what I've been reading. What you said makes more sense. :)


Quote
There is a tendency among reconstructionist groups (I've found) to privilege exclusively dealing with a particular culture, but in all honesty, there's no rule that says that every individual must *only* honour deities in X pantheon. Group policies (like the Troth's policy) are a different matter, but there's no obligation to join a group, either.


I can understand that in group practice, you honour the deities the group/kindred honours. That, obviously, makes sense.

I also get that there's no obligation to join a group, but sometimes it's nice to be able to not be completely solitary. ;)

And, please don't take this the wrong way... I mean it solely out of curiosity. Why would a group try to control individual and separate practices?

Quote from: Rhyshadow
Personally - why wouldn't you work with both - they became one 'Tribe' through inter-marriage after the battles between them were inconclusive - so they're really part of the same Pantheon


Okay, yeah. This is what I was thinking.

Quote from: triple_entendre
But if we're not going by UPG...


N00b alert... what does UPG stand for? :ashamed:

Quote
Obviously, you have a different interpretation than they do, that "from my study of Norse mythology, that of all the pantheons out there... the Norse gods would be the least offended of someone working with another god or goddess." -- and it sounds to me like your interpretation is at least equally valid.


Oh, yes, that is definitely only my personal thought, and I know there are folks who'd disagree. I guess my concern is having a wrong personal thought. What if these people who say "thou shalt have no other gods before the Norse... or even after" know more than me, and thus my saying that is simply because I am not well-informed?

I don't want to do something wrong, give cause for offence, or make sweeping judgements wherein I have no right. I want to make sure I'm doing things right, and not being oblivious to something that is blatant.
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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2012, 10:51:54 pm »
Quote from: Drakensdottir;77848

Oh, yes, that is definitely only my personal thought, and I know there are folks who'd disagree. I guess my concern is having a wrong personal thought. What if these people who say "thou shalt have no other gods before the Norse... or even after" know more than me, and thus my saying that is simply because I am not well-informed?

 
Very few ancient peoples cared.  Many of them engaged in an ongoing pattern of stealing nifty gods from their neighbors (sometimes literally taking the icons in order to steal their battle-luck), explaining how that "foreign" god was really one of theirs after all, or marrying 'em off to local gods in order to assimilate them into the system.

The actual Norse did this with Christianity.  Much to the discomfiture of the missionaries, to say the least.  ("Why are you still worshipping Thor?  I thought you said Jesus was awesome."  "Oh, sure, that's why I put the White Christ icon right next to Thor!")

As to modern groups that can be joined, they can set whatever rules they like for membership; you're not required to care.
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Faemon

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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2012, 11:17:45 pm »
Quote from: Drakensdottir;77848
Why would a group try to control individual and separate practices?
Lots of reasons, I think. Not just power-tripping of the cult or group leader, although that's the first one that comes to my mind. Identity. Community. A way to get a lot of people organized enough to accomplish helpful things in the bigger world, or just be in harmony in their own little one and not be around other people who are so incompatible that it's harmful. Some nice important things like that. Others not-so-nice, still others frivolous whether harmful or not.
Quote
N00b alert... what does UPG stand for?
Unverified Personal Gnosis :) The Jotunbok (that I'm reading now) by Raven Kaldera, I think, put it best:
Quote
In reconstructionist traditions such as Heathenry, a great deal of emphasis is placed on using the mythos described in the remaining scraps of lore, for obvious reasons.

If one treats this as a living religion with real deities, not just an academic exercise or the religious version of a historical-recreation society, there will be some people who will make personal, individual contact and communion with certain deities. When this happens, the inevitable clash of the mystic and the scholar fills the air. It is one thing to argue questions of lore, but when someone walks up in the middle of the argument and says, “Well, I talked to Freyja last night, and she said...” it pulls the very ground out from under the feet of the debate. Such proclamations are referred to in northern-tradition reconstructionist circles with the acronym of UPG, meaning (depending on the level of intended insult) either Unusual Personal Gnosis or Unverifiable Personal Gnosis. In general, UPG is not trusted, as there is supposedly no way to verify it.

However, that personal contact with Gods and wights inevitably leads to UPG, whether anyone likes it or not. The more that people actually work with the Gods rather than merely talking about them, the more that personal observations and communications not covered in our patchy scraps of lore will come up. This is what makes the difference between resurrecting a dead religion and practicing a living faith.


Some people might hold the opinion that this body of work is invalid because the author uses the word "shaman" in an unscholarly and politically incorrect way, or because he blogs about his unconventional sexcapades and therefore must be spiritually unenlightened or at least a despicable person, or because this book is about the Rokkr that other Heathens do have cause to judge as unworthy of godhood-- or, personally, because that first name is Raven and I have some prejudice against those who present that as their name (immature, unexposed to or unwilling to recognize reality, economically privileged and for some reason fashionably goth comes to mind)...

But Kaldera can be wrong. Kaldera critics can be wrong. I can be wrong-- I believe I was, because what I just quoted from somebody named Raven sounds thoughtful and spot-on to me. I can still be wrong.

But I'll still say how I judge: Doubt, even error, are not in themselves the worst things in the world. :p Sometimes obliviousness to the blatant can be heroic, and called speaking truth to power. Sometimes it's harmful ignorance. And I see a difference in that, in the former, you're standing for something. In the latter, you're falling for anything.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2012, 11:19:17 pm by Faemon »
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Gilbride

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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2012, 09:16:34 am »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;77840
There is a tendency among reconstructionist groups (I've found) to privilege exclusively dealing with a particular culture


Considering that Epona (just to give one example) was a Gaulish deity worshiped by German cavalrymen in the Roman army, this is one aspect of some forms of reconstructionism that seems very modern to me. I don't think most ancient pagans were at all worried about mixing pantheons in their personal worship practices. If the new god was powerful and could do what you needed done, it didn't matter where that god was from.

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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2012, 05:30:37 pm »
Quote from: Drakensdottir;77834

Also from some articles about Asatru I have read, they strongly discourage any other pantheons (to the point of some having it as a tenant of the Troth that others aren't to be worshipped/worked with/what have you). Now, I recognize the confusion that could arise from invoking multiple deities from multiple pantheons in one ritual, but it sees to me from my study of Norse mythology, that of all the pantheons out there... the Norse gods would be the least offended of someone working with another god or goddess.


I think this idea that one can only worship the Norse Gods is very much a modern idea perpetuated by Heathen groups that are interested in creating a strong distinction between themselves and other modern pagans. I've never heard a meaningful theological/philosophical justification for this. Unless you have an interest in defining your Heathenry in opposition to other modern pagans, I wouldn't worry about it.
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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2012, 07:59:08 am »
Quote from: Megatherium;77983
I think this idea that one can only worship the Norse Gods is very much a modern idea perpetuated by Heathen groups that are interested in creating a strong distinction between themselves and other modern pagans. I've never heard a meaningful theological/philosophical justification for this. Unless you have an interest in defining your Heathenry in opposition to other modern pagans, I wouldn't worry about it.

 
This is one of the reasons why I lurk on Heathen boards and don't post....some are very exclusive.

My personal take is that ancestors were important to the Norse.  I have ancestors that are not European, so to honor and worship both the ancestors and the deities associated with my blood would be agreeable to them.  More than that, I firmly believe we can have spiritual connections to places, cultures or deities that go beyond bloodlines.  If I have a strong connection to a deity outside the Norse pantheon, I honor them and work with them and have never had a problem from either side about it (my primary deity group is Norse).
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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2012, 10:09:02 am »
Quote from: Kylara;78037
This is one of the reasons why I lurk on Heathen boards and don't post....some are very exclusive.


Yeap. I think some of the issue is that many are raised in Christian homes with bibles and they find a pagan path with lore that gives them this "our stuff is in writing" kind of attitude many Christians have. If a wiccan practitioner has Freya as her goddess who am I to say sorry your wrong. If you look at the Jotunn as the wild forests, Vanir as agriculture based living and Aesir as modern living you can also see why in today's society many scholarly based Heathens would work with only the Aesir.

Fortunately there are groups and pockets online who allow those of us not so strict and accepting of upg a place to talk.

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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2012, 10:59:46 pm »
Quote from: Ula;78053
Yeap. I think some of the issue is that many are raised in Christian homes with bibles and they find a pagan path with lore that gives them this "our stuff is in writing" kind of attitude many Christians have. If a wiccan practitioner has Freya as her goddess who am I to say sorry your wrong. If you look at the Jotunn as the wild forests, Vanir as agriculture based living and Aesir as modern living you can also see why in today's society many scholarly based Heathens would work with only the Aesir.

Fortunately there are groups and pockets online who allow those of us not so strict and accepting of upg a place to talk.


AH! You've hit the nail on the head, I think, for my biggest turn off about it. With all the effort and work I've done (and am doing) to disentangle myself from the black and white of fundamental Christianity, I don't like feeling like I'm being looked down upon for doing something wrong, especially when I (feel?) have the best of intentions at heart.
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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2012, 07:58:44 am »
Quote from: Ula;78053
Yeap. I think some of the issue is that many are raised in Christian homes with bibles and they find a pagan path with lore that gives them this "our stuff is in writing" kind of attitude many Christians have.

 
Actualy, what scholarly based Heathens do is to apply source criticism to the source material, in order to avoid taking it at full face value... Like, say, some people do with the Bible or the Eddas.


Quote
If you look at the Jotunn as the wild forests, Vanir as agriculture based living and Aesir as modern living you can also see why in today's society many scholarly based Heathens would work with only the Aesir.


What are you talking about? The idea that scholarly Heathens are somehow less prone to sacrifice to or have a cult to the Vanir is ridicules - especially after Simeks paper "The Vanir: An Obituary".


Quote
Fortunately there are groups and pockets online who allow those of us not so strict and accepting of upg a place to talk.


Yup, and they are at least as numerous as "the scholarly based Heathens".

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Re: Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2012, 03:06:23 pm »
Quote from: Drakensdottir
Can someone who considers themself Asatru or Heathen, work with both?


You can, but I don't worship either.

The historical sources provide a specific language for the spiritual and the myths are just the stories of that. They were told in the context of a specific time to illustrate a certain point. Getting at the heart of that point is the key, and is what all the research is about. The surface details of the Aesir/Vanir war and who one is loyal to isn't really significant. Translating the meaning to learn from the impact of conflicting functions and philosophies--both in nature and in culture-- as well as the result that reconciliation has on customs, and the effects it has on our relationship with the chaotic and living world, is more meaningful than picking a side. Because there aren't sides. There's just life and a constant mingling of influences [gods, wyrd, people] that affect us.

Snorri, for example, gathered a lot of folklore that he stitched together to create a unified religious history. It was also a how-to guide on storytelling. He started the gods off in Troy and then went from beginning to end with Ragnarok. In reality, there just wasn't an organized religious outlook with a definitive pantheon and spiritual framework. To paraphrase one author: Religion came to replace custom during the conversion. And each tribe, or state of tribes, had its own customs depending on their needs, and landscape, and history. That's cultic. That's a tribal spirituality.

So, as I said, I don't worship the Aesir or Vanir. Instead I worship the gods of my locality, the gods that have seen to my needs, and I participate in my American customs. I use the language of the lore to clarify the functions of the influence around me, to organize that into some personal meaning, and to connect with others. I've come to realize that when one says they worship the Jotuns that its more a misuse of language and not a misuse of worship. The term "Jotun" simply identifies a being that's ambivalent and uninterested in human needs, not a species or race of god. If a being choses to take interest then its no longer a jotun. And as a word it can't be frozen within a set pantheon of specific beings but defines a multitude of experiences and exists in a variety of unique places and things. Which is to say, you can't quarantine heathenry within the mythology of the eddas, gods only within Aesir, Vanir, and Jotun, or ancestors within a pan-Germanic religion and universal custom.

Because Germanic is a language. Not a race, not a religion, not a bloodline. Reconstruction is the pursuit of applying that specific language to the influential things that Just Are. Its a language to describe the spiritual without a dogmatic context other than definition.  I'll say the female being I experienced is disir without it relating to anything specific other than "female helper spirit", and without appropriating this spirit from any other religion. Because it's not religious.  Tribes that shared a language group would understand this in the same way different pagan religions understand "god" and "spirit", even when they have their own cultic expressions of it. A shared language will have the same word for thunder (Thor) without necessarily having the same sacred customs for him. Confusing that shared language with a shared religion is the problem.

Long story short, don't worry about the primary mythology-- there isn't one. Worry about defining what's already around you in the context of the heathen language-- which you learn from reading the sources. Build or rediscover your own customs for the thunder that you experience. Celebrate your local folk heroes, and define what the spirit of your hometown means as a local patron. Where and when does your furious death shaman walk? Build him an idol.  Call him Wodan if you like-- that's what the name means.

Hope that was helpful and not just a ramble. :)
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Aesir/Vanir
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2012, 12:47:41 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;78350

Because Germanic is a language. Not a race, not a religion, not a bloodline. Reconstruction is the pursuit of applying that specific language to the influential things that Just Are. Its a language to describe the spiritual without a dogmatic context other than definition.  I'll say the female being I experienced is disir without it relating to anything specific other than "female helper spirit", and without appropriating this spirit from any other religion. Because it's not religious.  Tribes that shared a language group would understand this in the same way different pagan religions understand "god" and "spirit", even when they have their own cultic expressions of it. A shared language will have the same word for thunder (Thor) without necessarily having the same sacred customs for him. Confusing that shared language with a shared religion is the problem.

Long story short, don't worry about the primary mythology-- there isn't one. Worry about defining what's already around you in the context of the heathen language-- which you learn from reading the sources. Build or rediscover your own customs for the thunder that you experience.

Considering that Germanic and Norse travelers evidently brought their belief systems with them, it sounds like you're redefining 'heathenry' as a generic kind of naturism than as a cultural recon.

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