Heathen Roads

My great grandfather emigrated from Norway.

He changed his name at Ellis Island to honor the village he came from. What he chose is so utterly common that the trail goes cold at him. Never the less I his great grand child have always been fascinated with his homeland.

Now that is to say, that I love the stories and the myths, I’m absolutely fascinated by what archaeologists are constantly digging up and revealing about the Scandinavian people. I never once said I’m Norwegian. I’m not I’m American, I’m Montanan, I have even said from time to time that I’m a Missoulian, though I was a teenager when I moved to Missoula. Even as a young child I thought the people who insisted they were whatever their ancestors were, were ridiculous. It smacks to me and always has that someone who does that doesn’t believe they are interesting enough on their own.

So I am of Norwegian descent, but I am not Norwegian.

Why do I bring this up?

Well, I have said that I’m not that person anymore. These are the first steps to the person I would become.

When we lived in the trailer the Second, who always identified as pagan, joined a pagan gift exchange group, sort of a secret Santa type thing. She drew what she called a Norse Heathen. I was intrigued.

I searched for many years for a religion that spoke to me. I looked into every religion I could think of. I have read every holy text I could lay my hands on. I liked most of them, I thought for the most part they were beautiful books. They didn’t speak to my heart though.

I decided that given the premise that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and all the other big words we can think of, there never can be any real proof one way or another. It’s a matter of preference, do you prefer to live in a world with a divine presence or one without one? I prefer with, but I couldn’t specify any presence in particular.

The Second drew that Norse Heathen, and she was very proud of the Valknut pendant she picked out for her. This was the first time I had heard of people following the gods of my great grandfather’s homeland. So I looked into it.

I love the stories, they do speak to my heart. Now that’s not to say that I believe in a one eyed man on an eight legged horse. I love the stories as parables. I get the concept of metaphor. In a spiritual context I believe that something does not have to be literally true to be truer than many things that are.

I read the Eddas, I read the Havamal. These stories sing to me. I gain a great deal of value from them.

I cheated on my first wife, as a kid I wrote bad checks out of found checkbooks. I lied to my parents, I lied to my wife, I probably lied in some way to just about everyone I knew at one point or another. Lies rot you from the inside. It doesn’t matter who you lie to or why, the gain of deception is never worth the cost, and there is always a cost.

I realize that I’m making this sound like an overnight change in me. It wasn’t, this metamorphosis took years.

I discovered Asatru or heathenry, I prefer heathenry over that secret Santa exchange. Heathen is pretty close to the old Norse term, which basically just means not Christianity. You don’t really need a word for your religion until you try to compare it to what someone else is doing.

Like with everything I do I researched it to death. I read books and what others had to say on the subject. That’s where I ran into an issue that I always feel like I need to clarify. There are an awful lot of racist assholes who consider themselves Asatru. I’m not that. Moreover there is absolutely no justification in the Lore, in the written history, or in the archaeological record that suggests the Norse were a pure lily white people with no mixing whatever. We know that they raided and pillaged and quite frankly did a lot of things nobody should be proud of. The end result of that was, thralls and concubines where brought home. They interbred, in fact the historical record suggests that slavery was not an inheritable condition. So the children of slaves whatever their skin color might have been would have been free members of society.

I meant to talk about trucking.

I did research and as I researched I thought. Driving for a living I had a lot of time to think. I drove for fourteen months before I ended up injuring my shoulder. So that was 14 months of thinking and recalibrating my moral compass. By the time of my shoulder injury I was not the sort of person who could even stomach the idea of cheating on his wife.

Driving really allowed me to focus on my values and figure out who I was. I was changing and I was happy with who I was becoming.

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