Learn from the Past but Don't Live There

Most Asatru people really like history, in particular the history of our ancestors. There is nothing wrong with that, for the most part, but there is a hidden danger. Looking for and overcoming that danger can help us as a group and can help each of us as individuals.

In the Past

Christianity swept over our ancestors and stole from them their relationship with the Gods. Obviously it wasn't a complete victory or we wouldn't be here today. If you let it, this change of religion can be very disheartening. On the other hand, if you study it, you can learn important lessons.

Despite what Christians are told today about their religion being about the so-called common man, the religion was often spread by leaders who wanted to ally themselves with the remnants of the Roman empire. By joining the religion, they could gain the cooperation of those southern kings and their priests. Many of the "common people" converted just because they liked to do what their respected king did. Others were forced.

When Christianity did take the less royal path, it tended to do so through lies of peace, love, and salvation. We know that no one actually needs to be saved in that manner, but the Christian priests preyed upon the weary workers and played class warfare, effectively separating them from their ancestral religion by suggesting that the old religion did not pay them proper respect.

The Lessons we Learned

What lessons do we learn from this? First, we know that we must be leaders and have people who will consider our religion out of respect for our successes. Second, we must make it clear to the common people that they are respected and that they do not need to be saved. This will be difficult because we cannot do these things in the same way that the old kings and priests did them.

This is where the danger lies. Many of us really like the old stuff. We like swords and shields. We like our knotwork decorations and old languages. There is nothing wrong with that. We use it to pay respect to our ancestors. However, that world is gone. We live in the current one. If you spend too much of your resources trying to live in the past, you will not have resources for today and tomorrow.

We can still incorporate some of the old stuff in the new. Decorate your web pages with knotwork. Communicate with your kindred in Runes. If you make shields and swords, or any other old technology, try to sell it to everybody. These things are all okay, but it helps us tie the past to the future so we can make things better and still respect our ancestors. Just don't live in the past.

The same goes for the injustices from long ago (and some not so long ago). Is it horrible that Charlemagne's armies slaughtered unarmed Saxon families at Verdun? You bet it is. We must remember that Christians can do that sort of thing. However, all of those people who participated are dead. It doesn't do us any good to waste anger energy on them. Learn the lesson from it and then let it go.

On the Personal Level

This is where we can apply these lessons to our personal lives. We each have a past and sometimes there are bad things lurking there. I have good news; none of those things exist except as memories. That's not to discount the effect of those memories, but you need to give your energy to the present with an eye toward the future. Learn from your past, but then let it go and focus on the current moment.

You can also apply this to your identity. My ancestors are England. I can trace them back fairly well and DNA analysis has filled in the rest. That does not mean that I am English; I'm not. My parents are from the southern United States, yet I am not. I am simply me, whatever that means at the moment. If I were to cling to some other identity, that would be energy spent on something that doesn't really matter. I respect and appreciate my ancestors, but I am not them. It is my duty to them, to myself, and to my Gods to move forward to the identity based on my own actions.

Serving the Gods

Vidar is called Far-Seeing because He looks forward to the future. Sure, He knows the past, and He can see the present, but He knows that we need to prepare for that future. When we follow His guidance, we are doing the work of the Gods. As allies of the Gods, it is our duty to work toward that future and do our best. We can't do that if we are stuck in the past.