In the wake of the tragic mass shooting at the Tops Market grocery store in Buffalo, New York on May 14, 2022 we have been learning more about the murdering criminal who had perpetrated the attack. He was wearing a sonnenrad (a swastika related symbol), the assault rifle and shotgun were adorned with the Othala rune, and the shotgun also featured a Celtic Cross (which is a variation of our solar cross symbol). He also had references on his assault rifle to five other mass shooters (who I am choosing not to name) behind the following attacks: 2011 Norwegian attacks in Oslo and Utøya, 2011 Tree of life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the 2015 Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the 2019 Chabad Congregation in Poway, and the 2019 Christchurch attack.
He signed off his manifesto with the words “Goodbye, God bless you all and I hope to see you in Valhalla.” Compare it to the manifesto from the shooter behind the 2019 Christchurch attack and there’s lots of similarities (basically plagiarized with slight rewordings) including the sign off “Goodbye, god bless you all and I will see you in Valhalla.”
I’d like to say something for the hate spouting extremists in the back. Murderers don’t go to Valhalla. In fact in our lore we know murderers go somewhere else entirely. In Gylfaginning we are told by Odin (in his guise of Þriði) that those who commit evil go to Nifolhel (Misty Hel). In another section of Gylfaginning, and supported also in Völuspá, we learn that within Nifolhel we have Nástrǫnd (Corpse Shore), and that is where oathbreakers and murderers go in the afterlife. Nástrǫnd is home to the serpent Níðhöggr (Malice Striker) who gnaws for eternity on the corpses of murderers and oathbreakers that have been condemned to the serpent’s hall. We think that Nástrǫnd may correlate to the Old English Wyrmsele, which means serpent hall, it appears in the poem Judith found in the Nowell Codex (which is the manuscript source for Beowulf).
The heathen afterlife is first and foremost Hel. Hel, is more than just a name. Her name literally is not only the realm of the dead, but etymologically is the very earth where the dead are buried and reside, from the great cairns and graveyards. To speak of Hel is to speak of both the Goddess, Her realm, and all those who dwell there. Sooner or later we will traverse those halls, because as the Havamal states, “cattle die and kinsmen die” because the most fundamental truth of life is that sooner or later we die. From the sources we know that there were certain places or deities within the afterlife of Hel that played host to the dead: Odin’s Valhalla, Thor’s Bilskirnir within Valhalla, Freya’s Sessrumnir, the hall of Vingolf (mentioned three times: once connected to Odin, once to the Goddesses, and once just generally as a place for the dead), Gimlé where the just go, and then we know that the Goddesses Ran and Gefjon also play host to specific types of the dead (respectively those who died at sea and maidens).
One of the commonly misrepresented beliefs of our afterlife is that the end goal is for us all to go to Valhalla, it isn’t. Valhalla is specifically intended for a select few, and only for those that Odin thinks has the right skillset to his warrior purposes and thus chooses. Killing in self defense, or killing in the course of war is one thing. Gunning down a bunch of innocent people in a grocery store makes you only one thing: a murderer, a nīðing (nithling) which is one of the worst labels given to a person, as it means the person has no honor and is a villain.
This gunman doesn’t represent my religion nor my beliefs. In fact both he and the Q-Anon Shaman from the January 6, 2021 Insurrection in Washington DC use the singular Christian god in messaging, but combine it with some of our religion’s sacred symbols and places. This is sadly yet another despicable real world example of what should be sacred being profaned for the purposes of hate. Let me be clear, in the Northern Tradition these are the races that exist: the Giants, the Gods, the Dwarves, the Disir, the Alfar, other vaettir of land and sea, and the human race. That’s it. If you look at our creation story we see that as the Gods create the first people, Odin breathed life into them, Vili granted them intelligence, and Ve gave them their senses so they could see and hear. So whether an individual or any other cultural or religious group believes that or not, if someone believes and worships Odin then to my mind you should believe he is the All-Father of humanity, not the Father of only some.
You would think after decades of being a Heathen and seeing white supremacists pervert the sacred, I’d be used to this. But I’m not. I’m furious. Each time we’re here I’m just as outraged as the last time. So I had to do something, in this case I made a meme. Yes, it is but a small act, but maybe if we can educate there’d be fewer people misusing Valhalla. If we can burst the fantasy bubble around Valhalla, maybe we can start to dismantle part of the appeal in how white supremacists who don’t even worship our Gods use it to galvanize others to hate. Share it, spread it. Let’s make this go viral.