Because of the great impact of the Northern tribes on European history, their beliefs and mythology bear an even closer looking at. Although the Scandinavian pantheon of Gods has faded into oblivion and did so quickly, just as the Greek gods did, their subliminal influence remains.
In fact one of the primary thrusts of this work is to discover these subconscious links so that they can be rooted out. As long as the belief system is subliminal - as long as they are internal - there is no control. Their effect is automatic and unconscious. We are trying to bring these subconscious beliefs to the surface. Exposed to the light of day, they will eventually wither and die a natural death - for the good of all humanity.
A set of subliminal constructs that informs our political behavior is associated with Norse mythology. Indeed we shall attempt to establish that the aggressive Norse beliefs, founded around a warrior cult, are still at the foundation of our Anglo/European society. We will even go further to say that the world view presented by the Viking mythology is a more accurate reflection of prevalent standards than is the Biblical mythology, especially of the New Testament of Jesus. While the characters’ names have been changed their motives remain the same.
Originally there were the fertility gods, who were gods of harvest and peace. Then came the gods of war, the Aesir gods, ruled by mighty Odin, who were jealous of the knowledge of the fertility gods[i]. They battled to a standstill. The warrior gods tricked the fertility gods into an uneven exchange, which left the fertility gods crippled.
Odin was the head god of the Vikings. Wotan was his Saxon name. The Germanic tribes and the Vikings shared a similar mythology, as we will demonstrate. Odin was the father of all the gods, but he was not a jealous god. He honored any cultural belief system. It wasn’t only through him that you reached heaven. As such the invading Norsemen were incredibly tolerant of the local tribes and customs.
In no way did Odin demand absolute loyalty. In fact there was a whole pantheon of gods to choose from. Indeed although Odin was respected, he was not the most popular god, maybe not even in the top 10. His son, the thunder god Thor, was quite popular but was not considered to be that smart. His strength and courage were what he was primarily known for.
The Viking life was perilous, transitory, and short. Die in battle. Go directly to Valhalla, Odin’s great hall, (literally ‘Hall of the Slain’) where you get to battle all day, die, and then be reborn again at night ready for the big feast and excessive drinking. Thor was admired partially because he could consume such large quantities of food and wine. The ultimate jock and the roots of our alcoholic culture.
Eventually through many adventures the violence of these warrior gods grows increasingly wild and ferocious – symbolized by the great wolf Fenrir. This energy inevitably turns upon itself destroying everyone and the 9 worlds. This is Ragnarok, the End of the World. Ygdrassil, the giant tree growing from the center of the Earth and the Ocean, survives to generate a new race of peaceful gods and men.
This illustrates another element of the Viking Gods. They were mortal, subject to the finality of Death, at Ragnarok, the end of the world. This reflects the Viking warrior mentality. Humans must die in battle to reach their warrior heaven. Similarly the gods, as a reflection of this worldview, must also die in battle at the end of the world to reach their heaven. Life is a battle for gods and humans alike. While humans battle for life, the gods battle for existence itself. Interestingly this implies another layer of gods or god who might be in charge of these divine battles.
The tragic Balder was reputed to be the most popular of all the gods. When Loki tricked Balder’s blind brother into killing Balder with a mistletoe dart, the gods were so grieved that they attempted to rescue him from the Underworld by showing that everyone in the world loved him.
Only jealous Loki, in disguise as a Frost Giantess, refused to say he loved Balder. This doomed Balder to the Underworld, which triggered Ragnarok, the End of the World, which inevitably led to Balder’s rebirth. This story links easily into the Jesus mythology of the Bible. Just like Jesus, Balder dies and is reborn. Just as in Christianity there is an End of the World.
Balder died and went to the underworld guarded by Hel. As mentioned the only way a Viking reached heaven, Valhalla, was by dying in battle. Those who died of sickness or old age went to the underworld, guarded by Hel, an old hag.
Hel was the daughter of Loki and a frost Giantess, Angrboda. Loki, the trickster God, the son of two Fire-Giants, was warned about this mixed union, but he went ahead and had three unnatural children. These creatures were grotesque monsters. One, Jormungand, a great serpent biting its tail, encircled the seas causing great grief to sailors. The second Fenrir was a ferocious wolf that was to kill Odin, king of the gods, at the end of the world, Ragnarok.
The third child was female and named Hel. She guarded the Underworld, a terrifying place of horrible fires and frigid ice. Not even the gods could always escape this horrifying place. From her name, we get our word, hell. The similarity of the Viking and Christian concept of Hell made for an easy transition from Norse to Christian mythology.
Interestingly the Norse drew their conception of Hell from real life. In Iceland, the land of ice and fire, there are great fissures into the center of the earth, due to the fact that it is located on the top of an ocean fault, which reflects the grinding of two tectonic plates. Indeed when the Europeans first started traveling to Iceland they thought they were actually seeing Hell below the surface in the middle of the Earth.
From the above discussion it’s evident that there are three major congruences between the Viking mythology and Christianity. First there is the death and rebirth of a divinity. Second there is an end of the world. Third they both have a hell.
Note that the concept of hell is not based in the Bible. However Augustine, a popular and influential early Christian writer, wrote persuasively about sinners and the eternal damnation of hell from which there was no return. This is strikingly similar to the Norse concept of hell.
However there is no real mention of Hell, as a place of damnation, in the Bible. The Hebrew and Greek words (Gehenna) that are translated as hell in the Catholic Bible designate the common grave of dead humans. Instead of being an otherworldly location, hell was just a dump on the outskirts of the city where criminals and poor people were cremated and burned without gravestone or honor. Sulfur, fire and brimstone were used to cremate their bodies.
In effect the Bible is saying: “If you lead a bad life you will end up in a common grave, without honor or respect, while if you follow the Law you will be honored and mourned for after you die.” By following the Biblical message the follower would be saved from this fiery ignominious fate.
The main Biblical message about the after life is simply: “From dust we came. To dust we shall go.” There is no mention of afterlife. Instead it is just the opposite. The whole concept of heaven, hell, and mortal life is not Biblical, but pagan. Indeed the Jews, who base their religious beliefs around the Old Testament, don’t believe in an afterlife.
While the Old Testament doesn’t support the idea of an after life, the Christian Church adopted the idea, somewhat because it was a common belief of the pagans it was trying to convert. The church in its syncretism - in its desire to convert as many people as possible to Christianity - in order to increase its wealth and prestige- absorbed many local beliefs. In so doing they became overwhelmed by the pagan religions they were trying to overcome. The Church would allow any pagan custom as long as these pagans would recognize the supremacy of Jesus Christ as the head god, with the Pope as his agent on earth.
An example of this syncretism: in Christianity, as well as Judaism and Islam, there is only one God. The angels were only heavenly manifestations, while the saints were just human intermediaries to the one true god. To accommodate the local religions based in polytheism, the pagan gods became Christian saints. The local population was allowed to worship them as intermediaries to the Trinity of Jesus, Jehovah God, and the Holy Ghost, the Three in One: three parts to the same god.
What’s the difference between polytheism paganism and monotheistic Christianity? Only words. All gods, or saints, or angels, are just manifestations of the one true god, who has at least three acknowledged forms, in Christianity, at least. As we shall see the syncretism of the Christian Catholic Church became a point of contention with Islam as well as Protestantism.
While it is easy for Biblical literalists, whether Jewish, Islam, or Protestant, to criticize the syncretism of Catholicism, it enabled Western European culture to survive and spread. A commonalty of beliefs constitutes a culture. This common belief system is much more important than are the sources of the beliefs. As we’ve seen Christianity has very little to do with the pacifism of Jesus and much more to do with creating a cultural identity. This differentiation creates the illusion of Us and Them that has proven to be so devastating for humankind.
It was politically pragmatic to abandon the pacifism of Jesus when cultural survival was at stake. Cultural survival became more important than beliefs. Thus the beliefs that furthered survival and growth came to the fore. Those beliefs that were true to the founder of the religion were quickly abandoned when they were perceived to be counter-productive to survival.
As we shall see the aggressive belief system of the invaders from the North was quickly overlaid on the indigenous belief system of the European Christians. This cultural syncretism, while untrue to the beliefs of Jesus, allowed the culture to thrive and survive, while, as we shall see, those that held onto the pacifism of Jesus perished. The Fairy Tale is Over.
Another aspect that is important for the spread of a culture or religion is the notion of political power. This has nothing whatsoever to do with beliefs. It was obvious to the pagans that the Old Testament God was more powerful than their gods because he had allowed these conquerors, whether Romans, Muslims, Franks. Europeans, or Americans, to win the war.
In primitive religion the god who grants his followers the greatest worldly power is the strongest god. And it was obvious that the Christians had a mean ass God. Look how Jehovah destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah - how he destroyed the walls of Jericho – and how he allowed his people to be persecuted when they turned away from him and started worshipping the graven images of the lands they had conquered with His assistance.
In modern times we have a similar awe for success. A subliminal thought that underlies our beliefs is: “The successful have a superior world view to the unsuccessful.” Since most people equate success with power and wealth, the next logical statement becomes: “The belief system of the powerful and wealthy is superior to those who are powerless and weak.” A related doctrine is the Gospel of Wealth, which holds that God is on the side of those who are wealthy. This American doctrine originated early in the 20th century to justify the exploitation of the poor, nationally and globally. Although explicit then, it is the implicit justification for the atrocities of neo-Colonialism perpetrated by the powerful countries of the first World.
While a commonalty of beliefs holds a culture together, it is political power based upon military strength that allows for its spread and survival. Although many discuss belief systems interminably, they are secondary to the military technology, which includes the social system, in the determination of the strength of a culture. As such Christianity is a name applied to a culture which has very little to do with Jesus of the New Testament and much more to do with the militaristic nation building of the Old Testament. Jehovah, as a powerful nationalistic monotheistic war god, inspired the Jews, the Roman Christians, the Moslems, the Franks, the European powers, and the United States to conquer the world through military strength, combined with the ideology that created it.
While Jehovah, the Old Testament God, promised land and a nation, he did not promise loot. However, this was part of the mythology of the northern raiders. The violence of the Norse gods was frequently directed towards taking from others by force of arms. This mentality has remained with our leaders even unto modern times. The wealthy have so much money that it makes the kings of old appear poverty stricken and yet they battle for more. Why? They say for Catholic, Christian, Moslem, or Jewish values; take your pick. However looting was not an excuse for war in the Old Testament. This raider mentality is instead reflected in the Nordic/Germanic mythology, which is at the root of Western Civilization.
The astute leaders of the European/American military aristocracy, frequently with genetic ties to the Germanic/Nordic raiders, have employed the Old Testament concept of the Divine Nation as a means to increase their loot. The kings, presidents, tsars, and prime ministers of the myriad political entities trick their subjects into war rather than lead them in just causes. Through the omnipresent propaganda the leaders successfully attempt to identify the emotions of their subjects with the good of the country. This is called patriotism and is considered a good emotion. Then the citizens are called upon to defend their country, which frequently means to attack another country. The leaders are not stirring up patriotism as a means of defense and cultural self-esteem, as much as they are goading their people on to acts of brutality against another culture. As we shall see this strategy was successful beyond expectations in the Crusades at the beginning of the 2nd Millennium, as well as in Iraqi Wars 1 and 2 led by the Bush Presidents at the beginning of the 3rd. As is evident our leaders have successfully employed this merger of the Divine militaristic nation building of the Old Testament with the Divine looting of the Scandinavian mythology to become rich beyond imagining and simultaneously attribute it to God’s Will. Another example of the human species amazing ability to rationalize disgusting behavior.
The topic of the preceding fertility gods and the propaganda associated with this is tackled in the next section entitled Evolution of the Gods.