I have been a polytheist now for 20 years, and most of that time I have been within the Northern Tradition, and it never fails to amaze me how often I need to say this: our Gods are real. They are more than just characters trapped between the manuscripts of old tales. They are more than most give them credit for today. But They are and have always been alive, and present.
Whether it’s lore thumpers who cannot fathom the Gods doing anything since the Christian penning of old tales more than a millenia ago, the dogmatic followers of other religions, or even those who believe in no divinity such as the aetheists–the Gods have been here. Even when others tried to strip their names from us. When we lost their names to the destruction of those traditions They have endured. They are in our traditions, masked, preempted by other religions, and other peoples. They are in the old wisdom, and the old tales. They have never left us.
I am fortunate, I can trace portions of my maternal line back to those vary ancestors that converted, and their ancestors who were pagan. This is the collective history of nearly all of us whose ancestral roots have at any time traipsed through portions of the world where monotheism is the norm.
Ancient people’s didn’t believe the Gods were some representational, solely symbolic construct of the human psyche. These Gods had their sacred sites: holy groves and springs, temples and shrines where they were known to be present. There were priests. In ancient Germania some traveled with the Gods on pilgrimmage. We see in other places there was not just priests, but a priesthood that managed religious affairs for the Norse. We see engagement in the old tales from the individual family, to community leaders, to even kings and queens who made sacrifice to the Regin (Holy Powers).
Offerings came in so many forms: food and drink, weapons, gold and silver, precious and semiprecious stones (ranging from garnet, diamonds, pearls, trade beads and more), livestock and yes even humans (from slaves to even the king). While I’m certainly not advocating human sacrifice, we modern men and women forget the sheer AWE that these Holy Powers generated. That to step, unsolicited into a holy grove could be grounds for swift execution because your presence had profaned the area.
I have been fortunate in my life to be able to see some of these holy sites, to see the archaeological finds that are on proud display in museums around the world, and those unable to make such trips can often discover these for themselves in books, in online galleries and interactive online exhibits, as well as a plethora of documentaries, or in television programs that explore this archaeolgy and ancient history.
The National Museum of Denmark left quite an impression on me, as they found sacrifices of human hair that had been preserved in a bog. Think of it, hair has long been a form of human vanity, a symbol of health and attraction. Hair is a symbol ofthe self, of identity. The gift of it to the Gods is highly personal and intimate, and may very well represent the oly gift people felt they had the means to give.
So when there is a blogger who speaks of any of our Gods in the past tense, especially one that writes a great deal on pagan and polytheistic traditions I am angered, as they attempt to strip legitimacy from the power of those traditions, from the worshippers both past and present. While our Gods will not die, it is an insult to try with such small words to put your self in a position of power over Them, which is what those words do. It is the ego of the self, of man being greater than a God, of a conscious or perhaps unconscious belittling of those Gods and their followers. Look at the difference in belief, the true followers gave up a sacrificial token of their personal identity to their Gods (i.e. their hair), and this blogger would rather devalue that entire tradition of belief and practice.
Those word choices, even as simply from a shift of using present tense to past tense is insidious. A chip in a wall that has been broken badly already. We have lost so many of Their names, worshippers were executed then and are targeted even today because these people believe and honor the HOLY POWERS, because THE GODS ARE REAL. We cannot allow such insults to go unremarked, or to allow a supposedly polytheistic blog to say such things for the rest of our vast community.