Paganism: Part X - The Origin And Purpose Of Religion

Man is a paradoxical creature, torn between the instincts of the body and the will of the mind. If our bodily instincts are too weak we will either die from hunger, thirst or from lack of sleep, and never even reproduce ourselves. If the bodily instincts are too strong we will fall victim to overindulgence and basically degenerate to death. Unless man cultivates the mind and some times let it overrule the instincts of the body he will turn into a subhuman creature, dominated completely by his physical needs and urges. He will evolve no further and instead of becoming a better human being through life, he will turn into an animal.

When Heimdallr ("home counter"), using the name Rígr ("ruler"), about 80.000 years ago finished the creation of the kin of Jarl ("earl"), id est the Nordic (=European) race, in the Stone Age and in the utmost Thule, he had finally created a human race with the potential to become divine, and he stayed with them to tutor them. One of the things he taught Jarl's kin was a system of thoughts and rites intended to enable them to become divine. This system is what we today know as the European religion, or simply Paganism.

The mysteries, the high festivals, the seven-day-week and all the other Pagan traditions and ceremonies were all designed to improve man. All the rules and restrictions put on man by the religion make sure we don't let the physical instincts dominate our lives. The purpose of the high festivals and mysteries is to "rock the boat", and for a limited time let either the body or the mind be over-stimulated. This irrational shock is absolutely necessary in order for us to improve, for us to move forward. A constant perfect balance will lead only to stagnation. Therefore the Pagan high festivals usually include an excess of beverage and food, music, (marital) sex, dancing and feasting, and the mysteries are most often a tremendous "mind-blowing" and emotional experience. But when the feast or mystery is over we need to restore the perfect balance, hand the control back to the mind and return to normal life, or else we will quickly start to degenerate.

To understand the needs of man we need to know and understand the bodies of man, the different layers. They are (from "The Mysteries And Mythology Of Ancient Scandinavia"): "...called lík (body, corpse, "shadow"), várðr (guardian, "life force"), hamr (reflected image, shape, "memory"), hugr (mind, "soul") and ánd (breath, thought, "spirit"). Lík is the physical body and is therefore linked to the vanir. Everything from rocks to humans has a lík. Várðr is the ethereal body and like the other immaterial beings it is linked to the æsir. The várðr is the life force that guards life and keeps us alive. Everything from plants to humans has a várðr. Without this life force we would die and become corpses. Hamr is the astral body. This is the consciousness and the ability to learn through repetition. Everything from animals to humans has a hamr. Without hamr we fall into unconsciousness and become like plants. Hugr is the mental body. This is the ability to gain knowledge and make use of what you know. Without hugr we will forget everything we have learnt and become like animals. Only humans have a hugr. The final body is ánd. This penetrates everything, but only the initiated human beings have any contact with the spirit - and they need to travel on Sleipnir, through the Trojan Fortress and into the realm of the gods to learn its runes (secrets). Lík needs physical maintenance to survive, like physical training, food and beverage, but also rest. Várðr needs warmth, sleep, safety, joy and true love, but also cold, sorrow, fear, peril and negative emotions. Hamr needs creative display, music, art and dreams, but also silence, calm and emptiness. Hugr needs mental challenges, training of the long- and short-term memory, concentration and training of the logical faculties, but also mental rest. Ánd needs a deeper meaning, long-term activities and a super-individualistic perspective, but also contempt for death and ruthlessness. With that said I would claim this ancient Scandinavian system could easily replace the system of "the pyramid of needs" by Maslow."

Paganism is designed to serve the evolution of man, and all the mysteries and high festivals of this religion are well thought through. It is not just a peace-loving religion, because it acknowledges the importance of strife, but it is not just a war-loving religion either, because it also acknowledges the importance of peace. It is instead a religion embracing both peace and war, all in due time. In order to improve we need to be both awake and to sleep, we need both sunshine and rain, both light and darkness, both pleasure and pain, and so forth. To embrace only the sunshine, light and pleasure, like most modern religions do, is just stupid.

The restrictions put on man by Paganism are not a result of somebody's wish to limit our freedom or anything like that. They are there because they are necessary for us to eventually become divine, and after all we are here to become divine. Paganism is simply an instruction on how to reach this goal, an instruction given to the Nordic man by the gods in the beginning, and we should relate to it with this in mind.

Varg "The Bard" Vikernes

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