All undone is no one, though at death's door he lie:
some with good sons are blessed,
and some with kinsmen, or with coffers full,
and some with deeds well-done.
Boldness is the native English word for bravery or courage. Our ancestors went to battle, even death, without fear. And Tacitus noted that Germans who abandoned their shields were thought to have committed the basest of crimes.
Our ancestors did not hide their heads in the sand at the first sign of danger, nor did they accuse others of doing so unless the accusation was well founded. At the same time, they did not criticize those braver than they, nor did they throw themselves foolishly into the thick of the fray for no reason. Perhaps modern day Heathen should learn to do the same concerning boldness.
Steadfastness- Endurance and tenacity, the enduring of one's wyrd, was highly valued by the elder Heathens. They endured whatever Wyrd gave them, no matter how hard it was.
Steadfastness is closely tied to courage, but it was also a part of everyday life. Whether on the field of battle, or in a field of grain, the elders did not give up, but eagerly worked their wyrd. For us, this means not giving up the fight to make Heathenry an accepted religion, nor giving in to those who demand that we cease to exist.
The Hávamál (passage 15) expresses the concept of boldness well:
Silent and attentive-- and battle bold
should a chieftain's son be.
A man should be glad and happy, until defeated by death.
Such sentiment is further expressed in Fáfnismál (passage 29):
Ever the fearless, but never the fearful
fares the better in a fight;
'tis better to be glad than in gloomy mood
whether all is fair or foul.
May the halt ride a horse, and the handless be herdsman,
the deaf man may doughtily fight,
a blind man is better than a burn one ay;
of what gain is a good man dead?
Troth is the native Germanic word for faith, fealty, or loyalty to one's family, friends, kindred, lord, or Gods is considered amongst the highest of virtues. A warrior that survived his lord in battle, or failed to lay down his life defending kinfolk was shunned in society.
Troth was what ensured that "hold oaths" (oaths of fealty) and wedding vows were kept. Oaths were seen as sacred contracts, and oath breakers seen as the worst of offenders. Unlike the other virtues, to be lacking in this one would have meant death in the Elder Period.
Generosity, was seen as perhaps the highest of virtues and is intimately related to Loyalty on several levels. Many passages in the Hávamál deal with giving and its importance, and if one looks closely at those passages, one sees that giving was not seen as a one-sided affair, but as an equal exchange. The Ancient Heathens saw giving as not only the exchange of physical gifts, but also as an exchange of mystical power as well. Every gift given called for a gift in return. Should one fail to give the original giver a gift, he would lose main equal to the main contained in the gift to the giver. Mćgen exchanged through gifts over a long period of time between two or more people created a bond similar to kinship, due to personal main's intimate link to one's soul. Thus kings gave gifts to their thanes, friends exchanged gifts at Yule, gifts were exchanged between bride and groom, and sacrifices were seen as gifts to the gods (obligating the gods to give something in return). However, one could give too much or too often and thereby negate any obligation of a gift in return; nor were gifts amongst kinsmen common, for they shared the same main on a certain level anyway (through the kinfylgja). In this way, the pre-conversion Germans saw giving not only as a physical act, but as a metaphysical one as well.
Vengeance for the murder or harming of one's kinsmen was not just a virtue, but an obligation. Amongst our ancient ancestors, when a kinsmen was murdered, it was the duty of the kindred to take revenge or demand wergild, which was a heavy fine for murder to prevent blood feud.
Equality of the sexes was one of the ancient Germanic virtues, though no doubt to them it was just a way of life. Men and women were treated the same under Germanic law until late in the Elder Period when Christian ideas intruded and took over. Early in the Heathen Period, the ancient Heathens even placed Women above Men in certain respects. According to Tacitus, "They think that there is something sacred and provident about women. They neither fail to consult them nor do they scoff at their counsel. In Germanic wills, sons and daughters were treated evenly.
We rely on the strengths and love that are forged by blood and oath...what good are such things when we can't otherwise? We must be ready and willing to lend help and assistance where we can, when it is needed- what good are we to those that we are bound if we cannot depend on one another?
hospitality for our ancient ancestors was not just a virtue, but a necessity. Traveling long distances was often dangerous, and to ensure free trade and communications, the Elder Heathens opened their homes not only to friends, but also to strangers. Certain common courtesies bound both guest and host. The host provided a warm place to stay and something to eat, and even loaned dry clothes. The guest was expected not to eat too much, to provide entertainment (in the form of songs, tales, or news), and sometimes he gave small trinkets as gifts. Gestening was needful especially during the holy tides (when neighbors would gather to fain the gods and forbears) to prevent having to travel at night. For us, it is not much different at national gatherings when crash space is provided for those who have traveled a long way.
Fire is needed by the newcomer
Whose knees are frozen numb;
Meat and clean linen a man needs
Who has fared across the fells,
Water, too, that he may wash before eating,
Hand cloth’s and a hearty welcome,
Courteous words, then courteous silence
That he may tell his tale.
The virtue of industriousness means working hard, and taking pride in one's work, but it also goes beyond that. Are you employed, disabled, or a full-time student? If not, get a job. Are you part of a Kindred? If not, join one, or find some like-minded people and start one, be the person that "gets things done. This attitude will carry over to your spiritual life, as well. Do your work carefully, pridefully, and well.
Truly we are worthless if we cannot work to advance our children, to provide better for them in providing the best we can for ourselves...in reaching for high goals, in striving for perfection in all areas of life, we lay that example for our children, as they will for their own...laziness in that endeavor is a true 'sin' and failure to lay rightful layers within the Well, failure to take action, to work towards that greater evolution in self and spirit in all areas of our Being is certainly and evil indeed! We must provide for our Sippen and must work to further our standing in society, which also strengthens it! We must actively contribute to the sustenance of our household and Sippe, just as we must actively contribute to the sustenance of our Irminen-Gesellschaft, Irminic folk overall, and society-at-large in which we live! We cannot simply 'settle' for the mediocre, nor be satisfied in simply surviving- this does nothing to foster growth and commitment to growth, and does nothing to inspire our children to work harder or to achieve or evolve!
Industriousness went hand in hand with stead-fastness, and was necessary for survival. In ancient times there was always something to do: fields to till, cows to milk, swine to feed, wood to gather. In the mechanized world of today we often forget how hard life was for ancient ancestors. They didn't just go to the fridge and grab a beer. They had to collect the honey (risking being stung by bees), and brew the mead before they could drink it. In ancient times laziness would leave one starving or freezing to death, so naturally individuals with this trait of industriousness were very highly regarded.
Self-Reliance fits in very well with Industriousness. Don't wait for someone else to do your job for you. Don't wait for the world to be handed to you on a platter. Our ancient Gods and Goddesses favor those who do it themselves. This certainly doesn't mean that you have to do something completely alone if you have no idea how, or if you really just can't do it. What it does mean is that you should learn things from life, learn how to solve common problems, and maybe learn a craft or two. Pick up a book on brewing, or carving, or even plumbing or something. Have a hobby, perhaps one that can make nifty things for your Kindred to use, or for yourself to use. Who knows, you might even be able to sell things and make some extra money. Self-reliance is the key to freedom and freedom is the essence of all joyous life! To need reliance on others, or to be bound in thralldom and servitude is worst than death itself! We cannot be satisfied to let others think for us, nor can we be satisfied to let others do what is rightfully our own work to do! Only freedom can strengthen our love for life, and we cannot allow ourselves to be enthralled by need or want, which in turn enthralls our children and folk.
Only freedom furthers freedom!
11) A great part of Self reliance is utilizing ones own intellect and Wisdom, Odin is the God of wisdom, and knowledge of every kind was valued. Good kings were often given the appellation "the Wise," and contests of knowledge occur in several of the Edda's stories. Learning was a part of this, as it was the starting point on the road to knowledge and later wisdom. Today this is reflected in the research of modern Heathen scholars do to uncover the Elder Lore. It may be illuminating to note that Odin's self sacrifice on the World tree Yggdrasil was to gain knowledge, not power. Odin’s quest to obtain a drink from Mimer's Well was also to gain wisdom, the ability to use knowledge, foresight and common sense.
One's home is best, though small it be
To each home is hall.
The heart bleeds in the beggar who must
Ask at each meal for meat.
'LOG', derived from Old Norwegian LAGU, means 'law', only it is a much broader, more binding, concept than our modern word. It also encompassed the concept of 'lore', knowledge and wisdom of the past, for use in the present. The term 'OR-LOG' means something along the lines of First Law, Primal Law, Ultimate Law (The Law, as in the Law or Word of God). Also, it could be seen as First Principle or Primal Layer. To sum up, and to greatly understate it, Orlog is the ultimate purpose, or great plan, of Creation.
The word Wyrd is Old English and means 'destiny'. From the same root comes Urd, one of the Norns, and the Germanic words Werth, Warth and Wurth, which mean 'become'. The root word means 'to turn' or 'to become' and relates to that which has become (past and present), and that which will become (future). The term Wyrd has been translated as 'Fate', but has a different meaning to the Greco-Roman concept of fate, as will be shown.
An interesting aspect of Wyrd is that it can be pronounced as 'Weird' or 'Word' and both of these reveal meaning within the concept of Wyrd. 'Weird' can mean fate or destiny, and the Fates (similar entities to the Norns) are sometimes called the Weird Sisters. Weird also means supernatural, unearthly, uncanny. This last is derived from un kenny - 'beyond our ken' or 'beyond our ability to know'. So the very word defies our ability to comprehend it.
'Word' can have very significant meaning within the concept of Wyrd. In the Gospel according to St. John (1:1), it is written that 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.' Not a Nordic source, granted, but a mystery tradition that links the Word (Wyrd) with the Creative Powers of the Cosmos, as the concept of Wyrd is. The entire world was created with words in the Judeao/Christian tradition, and even in Nordic traditions a great deal of score was set by words, both as sources of wisdom (and thus power), and as mysteries with spells and blessings being spoken.
Instead, they are the natural course of one's life. Everybody is born with certain abilities: strengths in some areas, weaknesses in others. One's own Wyrd is the way these abilities will lead you through life. Problems, confusion, stress and depression arise when we try (whether through our own actions or external pressure) to work against it. This can be regarded as the Reality of our Life. Therefore Wyrd is related to the Web of Reality. The difference between Wyrd and the Web is that we can leave the path of our Wyrd, but the Web (the Reality) of our new situation will always remain with us, and will constantly be attempting to pull us back on course.
One of the principles of Asatru is to seek one's own Orlog and endeavor
to work with it. This means learning to live with the Reality of yourself,
using your strengths and accepting your weaknesses, while at the same time
attempting to use them as strengths by working with them and not against
them. This shows that, while living against your Orlog creates problems,
living in accordance with your Orlog will not necessarily be easy, although
it will be regarded as challenging rather than problematical.
The concepts of Orlog and Wyrd do not end here, however. All things have their own Orlog, their own Path of Reality. This includes concepts and situations. It also includes Creation itself. All individual Orlogs are facets of the Universal Orlog, and all are part of the great Web of Fate being woven by the Norns.
This can be regarded on several levels. On a purely physical level, in which the Hamingja can be considered to be the family reputation. The actions of any member can affect the reputation of the entire family and can last through several generations. On a more esoteric level, the Hamingja can be seen as a many faceted 'soul', each facet of which was the separate soul of an individual person, and yet part of the joint soul of the entire family. It can be seen from this that the 'reputation' could affect the entire future of the family and the actions of one family member could create good, or bad, luck for many generations to come.
Each family was seen as coming from one of the deities, and so each individual was an extension of that deity. This is demonstrated in 'The List of Rig'. Also, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle lists many genealogies going back to Odin. Later, when Christianity became the leading religion, Odin was seen as being descended from Adam (for instance, the Parker Chronicle, AD853). The main purpose of this aspect of Hamingja was to attempt to lead a worthy life to eventually lead the family soul back to that deity.
After death, the individual soul would go to Hel - this was not a place of punishment, as in the Christian tradition, but a place of rest between incarnations. (In this, the figure of Hel as being half corpse and half beautiful woman represents the triple Goddess in the aspect of transforming from Crone to Maiden, embodying the concept of death and rebirth). Alternatively, the soul would go to Asgard to reside in the hall of their family's deity: in other words, they would become one with their patron deity. This was a final destination, the soul would not be reborn again. This could be due to that particular individual having reached a level comparable to the Buddhist concept of Enlightenment, or to the entire Hamingja (family soul) being deemed worthy. There is a hall in Asgard with a golden roof for these worthy dead.
According to Asatru tradition, a person could only be reincarnated back into their own family line - they remained part of their Hamingja. If the family line died out, and therefore the Hamingja came to an end, none of the souls could be reborn. They would either remain in Hel, or become ghosts. (Another belief was that when the family line died, the entire Hamingja went to Asgard, but this seems a little too easy: entry into Asgard should require more than simply being the last of your line.) This explains the fierce loyalty to the family and the severe vengeance that could be instigated by the murder of a family member. Since their conduct also affected their Hamingja, it also explains the strong code of honour that the Germanic people lived by.
Hamingja also explains why it was such a great thing to die in battle: the individual soul would go straight to Asgard and side step any further incarnations, thus negating the risk of permanent residence in Hel. Also there was the added kudos of becoming a warrior for the Gods.