Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Ryan Smith, author of The Way of Fire and Ice: The Living Tradition of Norse Paganism.
One question that often comes up for Norse Paganism is, “So, is that the Viking stuff?” It’s no surprise, since the first thing most people think of when they hear the word “Norse” is, “Viking.” This isn’t helped by the fact that most people’s first exposure to anything Norse is probably through any number of avenues saturating popular culture, including (but not limited to) shows like Game of Thrones, The Vikings, and The Last Kingdom; the Marvel Thor films; and the thriving market for uber-masculine, Viking-themed knickknacks scattered all over social media. Many are left with the impression that any Norse is a throwback to a long-lost time or superficial escapism in a Conan-inspired fantasy.
For practitioners of modern Norse Paganism, however, nothing could be farther from the truth. There is so much more to Norse practice than Odin, Thor, Loki, hammers, and horned helmets. The myths, sagas and folklore used by Norse practitioners as the source for inspiration show a richly relevant, all-embracing set of ideas with significance for all aspects of your life. In Norse Paganism, the world is alive, constantly in motion, and endlessly dynamic.
Fate, a key force in Norse practice, is a huge part of why Norse Paganism isn’t just about having more Gods than can be conveniently counted. From the Norse perspective, everything is the product of everyone’s actions and these actions are all intimately connected. Every person’s choices change the world around them, creating different sets of options for all other people. The sum of all these actions, along with the actions of other Powers, is the stuff of Fate.
There are also many more Powers active in the Norse world beyond the Gods. Life is full of and surrounded by many different spirits, both great and small, of everything from trees and rivers to the home you live in and the street where you walk to work. The constant hum of the countless Powers fills reality from end to end, making everything more than meets the eye. This also calls on practitioners to live in the world mindful of the respect all things deserve.
Even these key aspects of Norse Paganism only just scratch the surface of the depth, beauty, and greater meaning in this form of practice. Far from being an avenue for escape from life, Norse Pagan practice offers new ideas, answers, and approaches in the face of the growing challenges of modern life. For anyone interested in modern Norse Paganism, there’s always something more out there in a living world filled with possibility.