wyrd thoughts: my other blog

"The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things...."

News and views about current affairs, religious freedom issues, and the fight against euthanasia. Also the latest about my cats, goats, sheep, geese and chickens, life in Menominee county, and whatever else is on my mind.

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Location: Wallace, Michigan, United States

"I'm Nobody, who are you?"

These blogs are the work of Nissa Annakindt, writer and farmer from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

My poetry and prose have been published in: Struggle, Above the Bridge, HEATHENzine, Idunna, Marklander, Asynjur and PanGaia.

I also was editor/publisher of the Nine Virtues News in its print incarnation, which ran weekly for a while.

Contact me at: Nissa Annakindt PO Box 95 Wallace, MI 49893 USA

"My strength is the strength of ten, because my heart is pure."

Monday, May 30, 2005

"New Age" and Euthanasia: by a Norse Pagan

According to the promo for a special issue of Whistleblower Magazine
the euthanasia movement is influenced by 'bizarre New Age beliefs'.

My own Odinist (Norse Pagan) religion is commonly considered 'New Age' and books about our faith tend to be published as 'New Age' books--- even though Odinists and other Pagans, including Wiccans (witches) don't consider themselves New Age and have a low opinion of the New Age movement.

Of course it is sadly true that since the modern revival of Odinism and other historic Pagan religions took place at the same time as the hippie 'counterculture', a lot of baggage from that age has seeped into our faith community--- acceptance of the 'sexual revolution' for example. And some accept the pro-death movement on the theory that if Christians are for it we ought to be against it.

A lot of this is out of ignorance. Most of those who became Odinists knew very little at first. Many of the most important books were out of print. (Imagine what Christianity would be like if the Bible and the ancient texts were all out of print, and all you had to go by was a few descriptions of Christianity by non-Christians).

Many people believe falsely that ancient Pagans in Greece and Rome approved of suicide. In fact it was considered to be cowardly and a form of murder.

It is also commonly believed that Vikings (who practiced the Odinist religion) believed that only warriors who fell in battle got to go to Valhalla, and those who died of sickness went to hell. So when they felt death approaching they would 'rist the runes' on their bodies with a spear point, which is presumed to mean suicide.

This is based on poor scholarship and misunderstanding. First, the place of the dead for Odinists is Hel, which is a realm of bliss, not a punishment place for bad people. In Odinism, everyone goes to Hel when they die. Those who are judged wicked die a second death and go to Niflehel. Warriors don't need to kill themselves to go to Valhalla, either. That is plain in a number of ancient texts.

Viktor Rydberg, in his Teutonic Mythology, has made an exhaustive study of this issue, which is discussed in volume 2 of this three-volume work. He proves conclusively that this 'risting with the runes' nonsense never happened and was based on a misunderstanding of a key text.

Ancient Odinists, and other ancient Pagans, valued courage and despised cowards--- and thought suicide a coward's way out. They respected their elders and thought nothing worse than a young person who thought his elders a burden because they were weak and needed care--- and considered one who would hasten the inheritance as a murderer of the worst sort, not a bringer of mercy.

As for the disabled, two of the most important Gods of the Odinist faith have disabilities--- Tyr has but one hand, Odin has but one eye. A clear message to the Odinist that the disabled are not to be despised.

I conclude with a passage from the Poetic Edda, an ancient text which is the Odinist Bible:

"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.

Better alive than lifeless be:
to the quick fall ay the cattle:
....

May the halt ride a horse, and the handless be herdsman
the deaf man may doughtily fight,
a blind man is better than a burned one, ay:
of what gain is a good man dead?"
(From the Havamal: the sayings of Odin--- a part of the Poetic Edda)