LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Odin, Freya and Loki must be jealous. In the new “Gods of the Vikings” exhibit in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot in Disney World, it was the slightly larger-than-life bust of Thor – especially the Norse god’s hammer, Mjolnir – that was getting the most photo-opp attention during a visit by The Wild Hunt. People young and old, and speaking numerous foreign languages, clutched the imposing, 18-inch Mjolnir as friends or family took photos – perhaps an indication of how the Marvel Comics movie franchise has made Thor a rock star beyond the community of practicing Heathens and followers of Ásatrú. Five feet from the Thor bust, however, was another Mjolnir, one less than an inch and a half long: an authentic Thor’s hammer pendant, made circa 800-1000 A.D. The artifact is on loan to the exhibit from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway.
Paganism is not a “religion of the book,” but it is a religion of many books. Here’s a look at some recent releases of interest to Pagans, Polytheists and Heathens: a Scandinavian’s travels in esoteric India, a young adult novel inspired by Yoruba religion, an examination of Odin’s influence in modern times, and a tree herbal. Journeys in the Kali Yuga: a Pilgrimage from Esoteric India to Pagan Europe
Aki Cederberg, Destiny Books, December 2017, 172 p.
In the introduction to this spiritual travelogue, Finland native Aki Cederberg writes that “as far back as I can remember, I have been drawn to and felt a strong resonance with certain sights, symbols, and signs, not exactly knowing why. Some of these have been found in the waking world, while others have revealed themselves in visions and dreams . .
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Some years ago, while attending a Heathen festival at the Gaea Retreat outside of Kansas City, I heard a man say a prayer to Thor. “Hail to the Thunderer, the working man’s god,” said the man, who fit the profile: tall and broad, bearded, his white skin tanned from days in the sun. I thought about that epithet for a long time, “the working man’s god.” It comes from the idea that in ancient times, gods like Odin served the powerful ruling class, while gods like Thor and Freyr were patrons of the commoners. I come from working people, from people whose jobs were to swing hammers, haul loads, dig holes, saw boards.
The Ásatrú religion can offer new perspectives on climate change ethics via examination of the modern practice of historically grounded ritual known as blót – a rite that foregrounds reciprocity with the earth, inherent value in the natural world, transtemporal human relationships, global connectedness, and the consequences of human action. In addition to discussing Ásatrú textual sources and examples of ritual, this column offers a new ethical model for responding to issues of climate change. Ásatrú is a religion with a life that already relates to reality in a way that addresses major issues raised by climate change ethicists. Practitioners are both certain and competent in a life-practice that directly engages relationships within the transtemporal human community and with the wider world. Through study of lore and celebration of ritual, the practice of Ásatrú reinforces understanding of reciprocal relationships with the natural world, inherent value of living things, connections to past and future peoples, interrelatedness of all human actors, and consequences of human actions.
This year has been a strange one. Next year promises to be even stranger. Although it sometimes seems that the dark is rising and will overwhelm us all, there are steps we all can take to fight for the light. A Dark Time
We now find ourselves living in a time when fundamental rules and relationships in the social order have begun to break down, sometimes in spectacular fashion. The general public is finally being forced to face the fact that men in power are emboldened by that power to sexually harass, abuse, and assault women and young girls.