This is not really an article, but rather some thoughts that occured to me after seeing the skydisc found in Nebra, Germany. A subject to discuss a little perhaps.
There seems to be a tendency among scholars to investigate temporary paganism. There are people who say that paganism is the world’s fastest growing religion. I am currently reading Michael Strmiska’s Modern Paganism In World Cultures with essays about Romuva (Lithuanian heathenry), pagans in the US military, Irish modern druids and Asatru in Northern America and Iceland (among other essays). I also know of books about current German paganism (but not like Strmiska’s book) and I know about an anthropology student who investigated the Flemish group that I am involved in (but I never saw the result). Since there seems to be nothing (but information of antifa groups) available about Dutch and Belgium Asatru, I thought to write a little introduction for investigators who may be unfamiliar with nowadays heathenry in the Dutch-speaking part of Northern Europe.
I was unpleasently surprised when I heard the news yesterday. Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama (since 1940), announced that he will lay down a part of his function in favour of a chosen successor. A few things went through my head. I had the (Theosophistic mistaken?) assumption that Tibet was ruled by a pair of Lamas, the Dalai Lama who is the worldly leader and the Panchen Lama (also Pänchen, Teshu or Tashi Lama), the spiritual leader. According to the Dutch news, the Dalai Lama was both the spiritual and worldly leader of the Tibetans and from now on, he will only be the spiritual leader. The current Panchen Lama (Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama since 1995) was born in 1989 and he disappeared. According the Chinese occupier the 11th Panchen Lama is Qoigyijabu (Gyancain Norbu), but even the Tibetans themselves do not agree on who is the actual 11th Panchen Lama. Perhaps because all of this controversy, the Dalai Lama took both tasks, but when you read (Western) information about the Lamas, it looks like the Panchen Lama has always been on the second plane.
This text was written for The New Antaios online journal in 2010 or so. The website has been taken down since, so I decided to publish it here for ‘archival reasons’.
Go here for much more information about Farwerck.
Some 8 years ago I met my girlfriend. We were both involved in a short-lived Dutch ‘spiritual magazine’ that liked to treat controversial subjects. Through the editor of the magazine my girlfriend got acquinted with a Flemish ‘Asatru’ group and later so did I. At the time my interest still mainly laid at Renaissance esotericism, Medieval magic, etc. This was already a bit closer to home, since before I had an interest in more exotic, Eastern subjects. In any case, meeting Asatru excelled my shift towards even more domestic interests, the old religion of Northern Europe. While becoming active in the group I initially sticked to my interests, but I heard a lot of interesting new paths.
Our aim is to encourage the expansion of Heathen thought into the domains of theology, philosophy, sociology, psychology and other discplines that have yet to be examined by Heathenry or any other form of European polytheism.
Thus say the editors of the Journal Of Contemporary Heathen Thought. I have said it before, I am no fond of describing heathenism as polytheistic, mine not for sure!
A while ago I ran into the little book The Icelandic Rune-Poem (1998) by R.I. Page and later I bought his book An Introduction To English Runes (first published 1973, revised and republished in 1999). Page is a rune-scholar. In both books he writes about what he calls “cryptic runes”, runes in code. I have looked around a little and noticed that there is not much information to be found about this subject on the world wide web. There is a very short article about “Cipher Runes on Wikipedia and a handfull of references to it. The article does not say all that much though, nor does the rest of the information that I found on the internet. I do not claim to make a definate article about the subject, but I will at least give a bit more information.
In this article I want to say a thing or two about a few interrelated ‘processes’ in the Medieval Germanic society. How groups form and how they are maintained and how ‘mechanisms’ such as honour and feud work. These at first sight varied subjects will prove to be interwoven.
For this article I have used a few books that you will find listed at the bottom. All authors more or less treat parts of the whole, but from different perspectives and speaking about different societies. It seems as if all of these kinds of works owe a great deal to Willam Miller’s Bloodtaking and Peacemaking which is one of the books that I used. Miller is mostly concerned with Medieval Iceland. Another author I consulted is Jos Bazelmans who dived deeply into the Beowulf story and therefor Anglo-Saxon culture. Another Dutch author, Arnoud-Jan Bijsterveld wrote a book about gift-giving mostly concerning people and the Church in the late-medieval Netherlands, a period in which little empires started to arise and this lord-civilian bond is also very present in Bijsterveld’s book. Further I used two articles and last but not least, the inspiration to start this little investigation came from Han Nijdam’s excellent Lichaam, Eer en Recht which is about Medieval Frisian society, with many references to Medieval Iceland.
I have said on countless occasions that Dumézil and his theories are not very popular among scholars nowadays. I have read arguments against his tripartite system that were sometimes convincing, sometimes not, but no scholar who disgards the hypthesis of Dumézil presents a workable alternative. Currently I am reading the book The War Of The Gods by Jarich Oosten. The book is of 1985 so the criticism is not just of today. The book is subtitled The Social Code in Indo-European Mythology. Some of you might now know what sort of book this is, but only when I started reading it, I learned that this book is written from the (cultural) anthropological viewpoint. Not completely my thing it seems, but the author writes fairly clearly and he takes a couple of pages to say something about Dumézil and his tripartite system which is worthy to think over. I will quote the mentioned book extensively.
I am currently reading a very interesting book about “Compensation Tariffs” in medieval Frisia. Of course I will review the book when I finish it. The book speaks about the “feuding society” in which honour is of high value. The author explains the ancient idea of honour very well.
Compensation systems, of which the Old Frisian penalty lists are an example, appear in many societies. […] The meganism flourishes in a society without a strong (central) authority – in which the government has the monopoly of violence – and where free men form a constitutional state. Such a society is often typified as being a feuding society. In a feuding society an insult or physical violence (sometimes) leads to revenge and revenge (sometimes) to a feud. The state of enmity that rises between two groups of people can be reconciled, compensation plays an important part.
Many times I have thought about the subject and recently there has been discussions about it: does the focus of many European “pagans” not lie too much on the North? Does the term “Asatru” not refer to much to the god of the ancient Scandinavians? Why do we refer to “Odin” and “Thor” and not to the same gods in our own tongue? What actually do we really know about these local versions of the old faith? I have tried to to make some sort of inventarisation and initial investigation into a subject that proves to be quite difficult.