Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Our Relationship With Our Gods and Goddesses

Do the Gods and Goddesses care about us?  Do they notice us?  What is the nature of our relationship with them?  For any religion or worldview that acknowledges the existence of Divinity, these are some fairly basic questions.  Like so many other topics within Asatru or Heathenry there are many different beliefs and opinions held on this topic, covering a wide spectrum, existing between two positions at the extreme. Just to be clear, in calling these two positions "extremes," I don't mean that in a negative way.  I just mean, these two positions are at the extreme ends of a wide and varied spectrum of belief.

This extreme take many forms, and is expressed in a variety of ways by the Heathens that take this position.  There are Heathens that talk of how significant and powerful the Gods are, and how insignificant a human must seem to to the Gods.  There are heathens that say the Gods are "too busy" with important work and solving important problems, for them to actually notice or spend any time on the problems of a single man or woman.  There are Heathens that point out that in the Lore, the Gods focus their time on great heroes and kings, and like to point out that the Gods have no need or motivation to interact with the common man.  Heathens at this end of the spectrum believe the Gods and Goddesses are too important, too busy, or too distant to have contact with them, give them advice, or any sort of direction.

This extreme takes many forms and is expressed in a variety of ways by the Heathens that take this position.  There are Heathens that refer to themselves as "Brides of Odin," and mean that quite literally.  There are Heathens that believe that Odin or one of the other Gods is their personal mentor, and speaks to them on a daily basis, giving them frequent advice on even the most mundane matters.  Many of these Heathens believe they receive frequent signs from our Gods, directing nearly every aspect of their lives.  Heathens at this end of the belief spectrum believe the Gods and Goddesses are in direct contact with them, mentoring them, guiding them, and giving them advice and direction on a frequent basis.

As with almost every topic, it is complete inaccurate to think that all heathens fall into one of these two extreme positions.  The vast majority of heathens fall somewhere along the spectrum. The nature of our relationship with Divinity is a complex issue, and the Truth of the matter, is unknowable...or at least unprovable in any acceptable way acknowledged by all.  So, each Heathen will have his/her own views of the matter.  Within a kindred over time, common beliefs or at least similarities in belief on the issue will develop.  But, an expectation that everyone should or will agree with anyone else's point of view on this subject is unrealistic.

Among our ancestors the beliefs regarding this topic varied.  And so it is with modern Heathens.  

From my point of view, one's relationship with the Gods and Goddesses, is a personal issue.  I'm always a little amazed when I see people posting on a public message board or social networking site about their relationship with the Gods.  Why on earth would I care what Frejya supposedly told some Heathen that lives 500 miles from me?  What is my interest in what Odin reportedly communicated in a dream to a Heathen that lives six states away from me?  What business is it of mine what "sign" was interpretted by a Heathen I've never met, and will likely never meet?  I'm always a bit suspicious of the background motivations of those that publicly boast to strangers on-line about a communication or message they believe they've received from the Gods and Goddesses.  

What I've written above does not even consider the wide spectrum of belief regarding the Nature of our Gods and Goddesses.  The subject of whether our Gods are literal beings, archetypes, personified forces of nature, or some else altogether is the subject for some other essay.

Mark Ludwig Stinson
Jotun's Bane Kindred
Temple of Our Heathen Gods 

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