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:hve­rungur:
Monday, October 24th, 2005, 08:10 AM
The Afterlife
by Hve­rungur Bj÷rnsson


During a conversation, a friend once asked me as an Asatruar what my beliefs were in regards to an "Afterlife". It struck me dumbfounded because I couldn't give him a solid answer, I just could not formulate a personal opinion there to give him. It never was really something I spent much time thinking about to be quite honest. In regards to the lore we of course know of Valhalla, the great hall of the slain where those warriors who die in battle are taken if they are one of the noble warriors chosen by a Valkyrie. There is Hel, Nifelheim and Gimli among other places we go after our time on Midgard is through but Valhalla and Hel are the two most well known within our lore. Now of course we know that the lore is not something meant to be taken in the literal sense, at least not in our era and advanced understanding when it comes to the myths of our ancestors. We donĺt believe there is a literal great hall in the skies called Valhalla where felled warriors go when they die in battle. Nor do we believe that Odin is a literal, physical wise bearded one eyed old man in the skies sitting on a great throne looking over the whole world. The Ăsir and Vanir, at least in my opinion are manifestations of the European and more specifically Germanic/Scandinavian folk soul and subconscious. Archetypes for who and what we are as a folk. They are a part of us and we in turn, are a part of them. In my opinion they are also great divine energies found within and around the earth whom our ancestors connected with and therefore perceived as Gods and Goddesses. As advanced or "supreme beings" appart from us as a Folk.

There are indeed many ideas and theories which one can think about and should consider in regards to our folkway when it comes to a belief in the spiritual afterlife. These are in relation to the "Big Bang theory", evolution and modern science. In our lore the worlds were created by the colliding of three plains of existence. One of fire, one of Ice and another one of pure nothingness coming together. When the "big bang theory" is broken down and simplified it is basically the colliding of hot and cold gasses within the nothingness of space which caused a great explosion and created solid matter. Which over a great deal of time created the earth and other planets. This while not "Rock solid proof" shows us that our lore does indeed link itself to the ideas and opinions formulated through modern scientific discovery and thought.

There is also the story in our lore of the killing of a frost giant named Ymir from which the earth was formed. As it says in Vafthrudnir, Stanza 21:


"Out of Ymirs flesh the earth was formed,
And out of his bones the mountains,
Heaven from the skull of the frost cold giant,
And from his "sweat" (blood) the seas."


From our lore, we know most male Frost Giants to be negative and destructive forces. In the times after the creation of the world, they were working against the greater good, seeking the destruction of the Gods, Asgard, Midgard and everything else in existence: They are the ultimate nihilists. Now could this myth, the killing of Ymir and the creation of the world within our lore also be tied to modern science and modern scientific theories of how the world came to be? If we take the actions of our Gods and the Giants in a metaphorical sense, then yes. In our lore, the world came from Ymir, a metaphorical destructive force, which co-insides with the stellar and geological phenomena which shaped our universe and our planet. The titanic forces of the giants paint vivid metaphors for a large explosion like one depicted in the "Big Bang Theory" or the colossal geological forces which sculpted the earth into itĺs current form . There are many symbolic links to what we know or believe scientifically and our ancient lore in regards to the creation of the world and universe.

Now if we again take our lore, especially the creation myths and apply them symbolically to modern day science and scientific theories like that of the "Big bang" it obviously does make a lot of sense. Another great example of a symbolic connection to evolution is the creation of Man by the Gods. Askr and Embla were Ash and Elm trees molded and given special qualities by Odin, Vili and Ve; they were turned into human beings. This story taken symbolically again could be an example of mans evolution from small organisms part of the earth into small mammals then finally into what we now exist as today. Our ancestors were a wise people, well in tune with the earth and the creating forces therein; maybe in some mystical way nature spoke to them through their subconscious, implanted stories into their minds. These stories were later interpreted as how we came to be, also known as "myth" or "symbolic truth".

Some people might ask why we need the symbolic myths. To give a short simple explanation, I will use the story of the three little pigs. Now I donĺt think anyone really believes that three pigs built houses of straw, sticks or bricks and no one really believes that a big bad wolf blew the first two houses down, but a story like this is important to tell children. It teaches them that through hard work and determination you will reach your goals; being lazy gets you nowhere. That is the importance of symbolic myth.

With these small points I will get into my opinions about the Afterlife and what I personally think happens to us when we die and leave this realm of existence. We know that man is made of Flesh and Bone, we have what is sometimes referred to as a "Soul" or in other terms Energy or Energies. Albert Einstein once said, ôI should teach the world that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be converted from one form to another.ö In my opinion our "souls" are just that same type of Energy, when we die there is no "black nothingness" as our souls do not die, they are energy, they cannot "die" or be destroyed. Our earthly physical body does indeed die but I believe our energies are released and transcend to an alternate state of being. It is my personal belief that how we live our lives, be that in a "positive" or "negative" manner influences our "Soul" energies into where they may go when we die. I view the mythology and places we are said to go as alternate plains of reality or states of being, some good, some bad all created within our subconscious as a better form of understanding. Where we go is all up to the positive or negative within our "soul energy", which, of course in turn is up to us. How we choose to live and lead our lives is of course up to no one but you and me. We decide where we go when we die based on our actions in life, unlike the Christians our gods do not pass judgement for they are not all perfect beings either. Asking for Salvation or begging for forgiveness for some kind of "Great heaven when we die" does nothing. As a good heathen once said "We are our deeds" and with those deeds we decide where we go and what fate lies after our death.

It is another belief of mine that in some cases our soul energy can be born back into the family clan, a form of reincarnation if you will. This can explain dreams many people speak of during their lives: A dream of being in "the past", the feeling that they have been in some place before and things feel and look so familiar in ones dream without ever really truly "being there" in that point in time or even in that area of the world. I for one personally have had these types of dreams in my life and still have them from time to time to this day. Dreams of me sitting around a camp fire on an ocean shore eating and drinking with other men while I see longships on the shore being unloaded by other men. I sometimes dream of watching a woman in a hut hang fish from hooks, that dream being seen through a childĺs eyes. I personally believe these dreams are visions from another life, a past life Iĺve led or an ancestor of mine speaking to me through my subconscious. I find it rather convenient that these dreams started to happen when I finally personally embraced Asatru and the ways of my ancestors as my own and made them a large part of my life, if not it becoming my whole life.

These are of course my opinions, ideas I have personally formed on my own with reading, personal contemplation, reflection and meditation. Maybe you will agree with them, maybe you wont. For those would be your opinions, just as these are mine as it pertains to the afterlife within my folkway and outlook on the world. We will of course never truly know what happens to us when we die until the day comes that we finally breath our last breath and see this world for the last time. If there is any comfort I feel in knowing that I will someday die it is, that as an Asatruar I will face death and anything after I leave this world the same way I have done my best in and will continue to do my best in life. That is meet it head on with pride, courage, honour and respect. I do not fear death, I am not worried about what will happen when I die. I am concerned with life and living it the best I can. Whatever happens when I die will happen and until that time comes I will not worry about it.

I extend my best wishes to you who have taken the time to read this article.

Farr Heill!


- Hve­rungur Bj÷rnsson, 13th Shedding, 2255 RE.





Id like to get some opinions and get a discussion going if possible :)

Vanir
Monday, October 24th, 2005, 10:53 AM
Briefly, I believe in no supernatural agency, or force. The Physical Universe is all. I believe we die, then we rot back into the Earth. The Protein Circle is the wheel of life. We achieve continuity (an immortality of sorts) through our children, and our Blood, our Folk. Our personal deeds, in the face of our inevitable deaths, acquire a nobility, and beauty, precisely because of our transience. This to me is Earth & Blood Heathenism.

Ryan Kirk
Monday, October 24th, 2005, 10:24 PM
I believe that there are energies as he puts it, or a soul. I'm not sure what happens to it, but I don't believe it is destroyed with death. I most likely believe that we achieve a different level of conciousness or existence or that we are reincarnated as another human, possibly family.

I think the best way to achieve immortality is through our deeds. Everyone knows the name of men like Hitler, Napoleon, Alexander the Great, William the Conqueror, and other great leaders. Say what you will of their causes and morals, but they live on through their deeds and reputations.

Ewergrin
Monday, October 24th, 2005, 10:28 PM
Briefly, I believe in no supernatural agency, or force. The Physical Universe is all. I believe we die, then we rot back into the Earth. The Protein Circle is the wheel of life. We achieve continuity (an immortality of sorts) through our children, and our Blood, our Folk. Our personal deeds, in the face of our inevitable deaths, acquire a nobility, and beauty, precisely because of our transience. This to me is Earth & Blood Heathenism.
My brother, you have hit the nail on the head, as it were. I feel the exact same way, and I doubt that I could have said it any better.

:hve­rungur:
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 02:12 AM
Briefly, I believe in no supernatural agency, or force. The Physical Universe is all. I believe we die, then we rot back into the Earth. The Protein Circle is the wheel of life.

But what created the physical universe? What caused those hot and cold gasses to collide, combust and create solid matter? What Even in our lore there is something called Orlog or Urlag to the Germans which is the ultimate driving force behind EVERYTHING, something that is all and nothing, something we cannot really picture or perfectly describe but it has been a part of our lore. Our ancestors believed in it and could comprehend it. What created the physical universe? What brought everything to be? Orlog/Urlag? Or was it just always there?


We achieve continuity (an immortality of sorts) through our children, and our Blood, our Folk. Our personal deeds, in the face of our inevitable deaths, acquire a nobility, and beauty, precisely because of our transience. This to me is Earth & Blood Heathenism.

I allso believe our deeds on earth to protect, support and push out folk define what happens when we die. Like I said, I believe we all carry energies, they either transend to another plane of existance when we die or our energies are reborn back into the family line.

But all heathens are different, we have different views and ideas about what happens. Not one person is right while another is wrong because unlike Christianity we have no dogma, no set list of rules and slave propaganda.

Sigel
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 04:24 PM
But what created the physical universe?
To answer that, you have to accept 'time' as a given. I donĺt. Can you empirically prove that there is anything but the very moment?

We have memories and forecasts, all of which are accurate, but time past and future is only a concept.

All we know has been singularly acquired, subjectively, through our gates of perception and gross consciousness.

When we die, for us at least, all of this returns to the unborn state from which it arose.

Gorm the Old
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 07:04 PM
I cannot conceive of any objective evidence for the existence of the human soul. All that we have to support the notion is a subjective feeling or impression. I distrust the subjective because it is the realm of self-deception and wishful thinking. That having been said, however, I must say that it SEEMS to me that I am an entity which uses the body. If not, why would we do anything not directly related to the needs of the body ? Yet, I (whatever "I" am) have needs and desires which do not benefit the body or the brain, as an organ of the body. Indeed, some of things I make the body do are harmful to it. Man is the only animal which voluntarily poisons itself. Yet, my needs are distinct from the body's needs . For example, suppose that I am reading a book (an action which, itself, is useless to the body) and I encounter an unfamiliar word. I get up out of my chair and walk across the room, remove a dictionary from the bookcase, and look up the word. My body needs food, water, air, shelter, etc. Looking up that word satisfied none of these nor any other conceivable needs of the body. The brain, as an organ of the body, needs oxygen and ATP. Looking up the word did not satisfy any of those needs, either. Left to its own devices, whatever they are, my body would probably have stayed in that comfortable chair. What made it get up and walk over to the bookcase ? "I" did. "I" used the body to accomplish my objective, to satisfy my curiosity about the meaning of that unfamiliar word .
This certainly gives me a strong impression that "I" am an entity which uses the body to serve its purposes and satisfy its needs which are NOT those of the body. What is this entity ? (I am not asking "What should I call it ?") What is its nature ? Can it exist independently of the body ? Did it come into being with the body, and if so, when ? at conception ? Where did it come from ? And, above all, IS IT REAL ? To all of these questions, I must give an agnostic reply: I don't know. IF it is real and IF it can exist independemtly of the brain and the rest of the body, then it would not be unreasonable to suppose that it could survive the death of the body. What would it do and where would it go (if, indeed, it be bound to the constraints of space and time at all) ? Again, I do not know, nor does anyone else.

Alizon Device
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 07:55 PM
To answer that, you have to accept 'time' as a given. I donĺt. Can you empirically prove that there is anything but the very moment?

We have memories and forecasts, all of which are accurate, but time past and future is only a concept.


I believe that only the past can be empirically proven. It exists as electrical energy stored in our brains. What we know as as memory.

No-one has ever witnessed the present.

The only way we know we physically exist, where and when we are in relation to the rest of the physical universe is through the 5 senses, and none of these are fast enough to record "the present".

The speed of light has been quantified (1,986 miles per second?), so in the fraction of a microsecond it takes an image to reach our brain, that image is a fraction of a microsecond old, hence the past.

That is the sense of sight.
The other 4 senses are considerably slower.

So, we live in the past, and the present does not exist. And never will do whilst we inhabit human bodies.

Gorm the Old
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 10:02 PM
Light is faster than you think it is, Richie. The velocity of light is about 186,000 miles (or 300,000 km.) per second. You're right, though. What we call the present is only the recent past, the part of it that we remember in our short-term memory. Logically, the present, being the boundary between the unborn future and the dead past, must have no duration at all. This leads to a confusing paradox, however, if the "present" is only the recent past, how can we do anything at all ? The action would have to start in the past and end further into the past. But, whatever is in the past is over and done with, so it would seem that the action is finished before it starts !

Alizon Device
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 10:23 PM
Thanks for the correction (I did think, God it has to be faster than that!!!).:D

Call me an old romantic, but in the light of paradoxes such as these, I refuse to catagorically deny the existance of a "Creator" of some sort.

Ewergrin
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 10:51 PM
Thanks for the correction (I did think, God it has to be faster than that!!!).:D

Call me an old romantic, but in the light of paradoxes such as these, I refuse to catagorically deny the existance of a "Creator" of some sort.

:)
It's called faith. Science has given man the power to absolutely deny his existence and the meaning and purpose of time, and yet despite all of the scientific proof, we still hope beyond hope and reason that there is some sort of divine purpose to our roll on this floating orb.

Faith empowers man above science.

Alizon Device
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 11:39 PM
:)
Faith empowers man above science.

Oh no! Not another believer in absolute science! :doh

500 years ago, the most eminent scientists were denouncing Copernicus as a witch!

Science is the most relative phenomenon in the whole of history!
When did "flying to the moon" transcend from fairy tale to rocket science?
When did heart transplants transcend from Frankensteinesque gothic horror to everyday surgery?

And when will telepathy, necromancy and divination transcend from "new age" fancy in 2005 to a multi-billion pound/ dollar industry in 2035?

Has anyone read "Sole Survivor" by Dean Kootz? I love the idea of "Infiniface"! :)

Ewergrin
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 11:41 PM
Oh no! Not another believer in absolute science! :doh
I think you're taking my post the wrong way.

Alizon Device
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 11:45 PM
Damn! How can you reply so quickly???

Nah, I'm only kidding about the whole science bit. The bottom line, as ES said, is we just don't know about the afterlife. No-one.

So the Mullahs or Rabbis or Evangelists who claim to, really piss me off, the arrogant buffoons.... :)

Ewergrin
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 11:48 PM
Damn! How can you reply so quickly???

Nah, I'm only kidding about the whole science bit. The bottom line, as ES said, is we just don't know about the afterlife. No-one.

So the Mullahs or Rabbis or Evangelists who claim to, really piss me off, the arrogant buffoons.... :)
I for one am content to live my life as best as I can, and not torment myself, or others, with some endless quest for the Truth. I'll be dead soon enough, and can worry about it then. :D

Alizon Device
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005, 11:52 PM
Hear hear! But I'd love this thread to carry on, because the original question is probably the one that has caused our People more grief than any other over the ages. :(

Alizon Device
Wednesday, October 26th, 2005, 09:59 PM
Hear hear! But I'd love this thread to carry on, because the original question is probably the one that has caused our People more grief than any other over the ages. :(

And with those words, he invoked the kiss of death upon The Thread, and lo, it did wither and perish... :doh

Sigel
Thursday, October 27th, 2005, 10:07 AM
I believe that only the past can be empirically proven. It exists as electrical energy stored in our brains. What we know as as memory.

No-one has ever witnessed the present.
But wouldn't you say that "the present" is what happens when that "electrical energy in our brains" registers its environment?

That is our subjective present right? If we are talking about light coming from a distant star, then when is the correct moment - when it first left the star, half way or when we register it?

There is no 'correct' present moment that happens outside of our cognition. All quantification of time into seconds etc. is merely a human construct. It works well, and is essential, for our purposes, but that's as far as it goes.

Reality, it is not IMHO.

This should kill off the thread anyway:doh

Sigurd
Thursday, November 16th, 2006, 09:42 PM
A good and interesting article. :)

Bumping this thread, for I think it might be interesting for some of our newer members to discuss this article. ;)