06) If heathenism gave you a code to live by, what would that look like? (i.e. How has this faith encouraged you to live?)
Here’s how I piss everyone off 6 days in…
It’s hard to honestly answer this for many reasons, yeah I could go online and find sets of rules that supposedly tell me how to live as a Pagan, it would be easy, and perhaps for an absolute beginner that is scared of the freedom of not having doctrinal law peering over your shoulder, I guess it could be quite comforting. For most that have jumped from Abrahamic religion to some version of Germanic Paganism, its hard not to have a codified law and holy book available, some people even end up leaving due to this sadly.
Some would say that we should live our heathen lives based on the Nine Nobile Virtues or the None Noble Charges, laws created in the idea of what ancient Scandinavian laws could have been, but I take issue with them for a number of reasons. Chiefly, I don’t see Paganism as any sort of dogmatic religion, so putting hardline rules in place reeks of Christian tendencies sneaking into something that claims to want to distance itself from such leanings. Many treat the NNV as a stand-in for the Ten Commandments, but at least there they were enshrined in Christian Doctrine.
Not everyone knows this, but the “Nine Noble Virtues,” or “NNV,” are not set down and codified anywhere in the lore. They were first created by members of the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists, the Odinic Rite, and the Asatru Folk Assembly less than 50 years ago. That particular strand of Heathenry is something that I want absolutely zero part in to be quite frank. I understand that we can all trace the resurgence of Heathenism back to those guys, unfortunately, but time has passed and we need to move on.
A lot of the virtues look harmless as posted above, but when you do a deeper dive into their intentions, it becomes obvious what’s going on – Take “hospitality”, for example – The Odinic Right says this about it: “To succour the friendless but to put no faith in the pledged word of a stranger people.” – so basically don’t trust outsiders…..hmmmm thats a red flag, and honestly quite the opposite of Odin’s rules for hospitality actually in The Lore.
I feel that the NNV are very simplistic, and at face value gear someone towards more of a militarized temperament, and abandon much of what Odin teaches us in Hávamál for starters. I don’t see an idea that we should strive for knowledge, nor is there any mention of the joys and merriment that go with festivals, how to take care of a family, or even something simple like how to treat the religious side of things. I’m not going to say its wrong, as many see value in the NNV, despite the baggage, but its simply not for me whatsoever.
If you’re still with me here, I’m not sure I am the person to attempt to write a new code of Heathen ethics – perhaps that would be an interesting thought experiment at some point, but I think it goes past the intention of this prompt today. Truthfully I only take a portion of my ethical leanings from the Lore, I don’t believe we should attempt to live 100% like how something was written in the distant past – if so, we’d be going to literal war over a derogatory slur uttered to someone such as found in many of the Sagas, or we’d be justifying all sorts of misogynist views on women as purportedly spoken by Odin in the Hávamál. Granted, I have seen and known Heathens like this, missing the entire point that many of those stories were to illustrate that nobody was in the right.
Most Heathens love to point out things to Christians like Leviticus proclaiming that eating shellfish or wearing mixed fiber clothing is punishable by death, and that you can’t enforce old laws like that, then try to do the same exact thing. A lot of us get accused of being Viking Cosplayers, and stuff like this is honestly why.
I honestly try to base most of my morals on Humanism, as weird as that sounds. At the risk of being lumped in with all of the so-called Wicca-infused Heathens that are much derided by so-called traditionalists, its really the only way to live in a society now. Yes, one can look to the old ways for traditions, lore, inspiration, and spiritual fulfillment; but unless one plans to live in a breakaway off-grid Amish-esque Midsommar cult village where you have your own rule of law, its not really possible – and truthfully is everything worth bringing back just because it’s there? Do we want to start paying wergild due to an accusation of dishonor? Do we want to enact what we think Viking Sharia Law courts would be? No, that’s silly.