what's your religion?

Everything else, basically.

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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » November 26th, 2012, 10:39 am

beatsweetheart wrote:I'm all messed up. I'm going to say a lot of things that don't make sense, ok?


this is pretty much my life motto. ;)

Jules wrote:Would anyone be interested in an "interfaith/interprov" dialogue group? Anyone interested in how improv can/could be applied to social justice etc?
contact me at juliejezebel@gmail.com if so.


ooooh, i like. i'll be in touch. :)
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Postby Brad Hawkins » November 29th, 2012, 9:26 am

I've got a question for Mike. I have always wondered this about the beliefs of people who follow pagan religions.

When you say your faith is basically the old Norse religion, do you mean that you literally believe in, say, Thor -- the physical, anthropomorphic, hammer-wielding, goat-chariot-driving god of thunder? Like, you believe there's literally an Asgard out there that people could go to and meet and touch real Thor?

I'm certainly not trying to be derisive, it's just something I have more trouble getting my head around than belief in the invisible, disembodied sky-god of monotheism.
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Postby Chuy! » November 29th, 2012, 2:07 pm

Maybe he means he believes in the teachings of Norse mythology.
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Postby Mike » November 30th, 2012, 2:05 am

Brad Hawkins wrote:I've got a question for Mike. I have always wondered this about the beliefs of people who follow pagan religions.

When you say your faith is basically the old Norse religion, do you mean that you literally believe in, say, Thor -- the physical, anthropomorphic, hammer-wielding, goat-chariot-driving god of thunder? Like, you believe there's literally an Asgard out there that people could go to and meet and touch real Thor?

I'm certainly not trying to be derisive, it's just something I have more trouble getting my head around than belief in the invisible, disembodied sky-god of monotheism.


Brad:

I believe in the existence of the Norse Gods just as a Christian believes that Jesus and Mary and God exist.

Yes, I believe that Thor is 'real' as well as Odin, Freyja, and the rest of the Gods. To me Asgard exists as one believes in heaven, and sitting in the middle, is Valhalla, Odin's hall of the honored dead.

What differentiates this from most other religions is that unless I die a heroic death (The Vikings believed you had to die in battle - and even then the Valkyries were the ones who chose you) I will never enter Valhalla. As I am not in the military, and battles between clans are obsolete these days I am probably going to die of old age or illness and my soul will be sent to Hel (Not to be confused with HELL in the Christian religion, but the domain of Hel, Loki's daughter.) The Norse believed unless you died in battle you were cast into this realm and would not be able to fight in Ragnarok, the final battle alongside the Gods and other heroes. (There are rumors of old Vikings cutting themselves with their swords or spears at the moment of death to fool Hel into thinking they died in battle as not to be taken to her domain.)

Unlike say, Christianity, where practitioners are taught to be humble in the face of their deity, Norse Paganism encourages us to talk to our Gods as Equals. We are told to stand up before them and talk with them as we would a good friend or brother or sister, because they are here to help us in life. In order to get their help, you have to bust your ass. Ask Odin for help with any wisdom based task like a test, you had better study. Ask Thor for help in the gym or to lose weight - he'll offer help- but you are doing 99.9% of the work. They want you to take an active part in your life, and they will assist you through the rough spots.

Also there is the issue of fate. Most Norse followers believe the Skein ( a tapestry) of your life was woven at birth by Odin and the Norns (Norse equivalent of the Greek Fates). It has everything you will experience on it from birth to death. All I am going through now is on that tapestry and no matter what I do, it's believed that I am following a storyline of my life. That's not to say I'm a puppet of the Gods, but they foresaw my life at the time of my birth and put it down for my soul to follow.

So Paganism is almost similar to monotheism in structure - the belief of a deity who you can pray to who lives in a real not of this world, but for some of the Pagan beliefs our Gods take a more active part in our lives than others. We believe we will one day be able to go to their realm and stand with them as we stand with our mortal friends on earth.

I speak to the Gods daily, and have (at the risk of being thought a tad bit crazy) felt their touch and heard their voices in subtle ways.

Sorry about the long winded response.
Last edited by Mike on December 2nd, 2012, 12:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby SarahMarie » November 30th, 2012, 9:56 am

Mike wrote:
Sorry about the long winded response.


I found it fascinating and beautiful.
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Postby Brad Hawkins » November 30th, 2012, 10:19 am

Mike wrote: What differentiates this from most other religions is that unless I die a heroic death (The Vikings believed you had to die in battle - and even then the Valkyries were the ones who chose you) I will never enter Valhalla. As I am not in the military, and battles between clans are obsolete these days I am probably going to die of old age or illness and my soul will be sent to Hel (Not to be confused with HELL in the Christian religion, but the domain of Hel, Loki's daughter.) The Norse believed unless you died in battle you were cast into this realm and would not be able to fight in Ragnarok, the final battle alongside the Gods and other heroes. (There are rumors of old Vikings cutting themselves with their swords or spears at the moment of death to fool Hel into thinking they died in battle as not to be taken to her domain.)


I think your friends can get your back here, and promise that if we see you dying, we'll beat the crap out of you.

Anyway, thanks for the heartfelt response, Mike.
The silver knives are flashing in the tired old cafe. A ghost climbs on the table in a bridal negligee. She says "My body is the life; my body is the way." I raise my arm against it all and I catch the bride's bouquet.
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Postby happywaffle » November 30th, 2012, 10:46 am

Mike wrote:
Brad Hawkins wrote:I've got a question for Mike. I have always wondered this about the beliefs of people who follow pagan religions.

When you say your faith is basically the old Norse religion, do you mean that you literally believe in, say, Thor -- the physical, anthropomorphic, hammer-wielding, goat-chariot-driving god of thunder? Like, you believe there's literally an Asgard out there that people could go to and meet and touch real Thor?

I'm certainly not trying to be derisive, it's just something I have more trouble getting my head around than belief in the invisible, disembodied sky-god of monotheism.


Yes, I believe that Thor is 'real' as well as Odin, Freyja, and the rest of the Gods. To me Asgard exists as one believes in heaven, and sitting in the middle, is Valhalla, Odin's hall of the honored dead.


Follow-up question: do you believe that these gods are actual physical beings, wielding actual physical hammers, etc.? (Is Ragnarok going to be an actual physical battle?) Or is it more like Hinduism, where the gods are depicted a certain way but are actually considered to be beyond human understanding?

And if it's option 1, where exactly *are* these places and gods and battles in relation to us here on earth? Is it a parallel-dimension kind of thing?

I'm asking since most Christians might draw God as a white-bearded old man, or draw heaven as a fluffy-cloud place with winged angels, but they'd also say that God and heaven don't really exist in a form that we can comprehend. So I just want to know if it's along those lines, or something entirely different.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » November 30th, 2012, 11:08 am

android lady wrote:
Mike wrote:
Sorry about the long winded response.


I found it fascinating and beautiful.


Amen.
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Postby Mike » December 1st, 2012, 2:26 am

happywaffle wrote:Follow-up question: do you believe that these gods are actual physical beings, wielding actual physical hammers, etc.? (Is Ragnarok going to be an actual physical battle?) Or is it more like Hinduism, where the gods are depicted a certain way but are actually considered to be beyond human understanding?

And if it's option 1, where exactly *are* these places and gods and battles in relation to us here on earth? Is it a parallel-dimension kind of thing?

I'm asking since most Christians might draw God as a white-bearded old man, or draw heaven as a fluffy-cloud place with winged angels, but they'd also say that God and heaven don't really exist in a form that we can comprehend. So I just want to know if it's along those lines, or something entirely different.


1) Do I believe they are physical beings? That's a bit in the grey area. While I do believe the Gods exist in another plane of existence, I would have to say that they, if they chose to, could manifest as physical beings on this planet. If Christ could come from the heavens and take the form of a man, then the Norse Gods shouldn't have any problem either.

There are tales of Vikings meeting a traveler on the road and spending time with him, later finding out that said grey-clad and cloaked traveler was Odin in disguise. Tales like this are common among the Scandinavian countries and are told in gatherings to show that our Gods do walk among us, however the culture was primarily based in oral traditions before the 1200's when Snorri Sturluson finally wrote these tales down in the Prose Eddas. So, we're looking at a history of a religion written AFTER the general decline of the belief and the conversion to Christianity by most of the population of the countries where the religion was followed. Historians have placed the earliest stone writings/pictures of the Gods and men together around 2000 BCE (So now you have a religion set up when the Egyptians were a world power and it's based mostly on scattered rock carvings and oral stories in order to pass the main beliefs down to each generation.)

I'd like to think Odin and Thor take physical form. Maybe they wander the earth keeping watch on the faithful from afar and seeing what has become of this world since they lost a good portion of their followers to a Jewish Carpenter. I would like to believe that they come to earth in disguise and visit the faithful who truly need them.

2) As far as realms or exact places, that is more intangible. Norse beliefs center around the "World Tree" or Yggdrasil.
(Here's where it gets kind of long, as you need to learn about the tree in order to comprehend part of the main beliefs in the religion)

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil ("The Terrible One's Horse"), also called the World Tree, is the giant ash tree that links and shelters all the worlds. Beneath the three roots the realms of Asgard, Jotunheim, and Niflheim are located. Three wells lie at its base: the Well of Wisdom (Mímisbrunnr), guarded by Mimir; the Well of Fate (Urdarbrunnr), guarded by the Norns; and the Hvergelmir (Roaring Kettle), the source of many rivers.
Four deer run across the branches of the tree and eat the buds; they represent the four winds. There are other inhabitants of the tree, such as the squirrel Ratatosk ("swift teeth"), a notorious gossip, and Vidofnir ("tree snake"), the golden rooster that perches on the topmost bough. The roots are gnawed upon by Nidhogg and other serpents. On the day of Ragnarok, the fire giant Surt will set the tree on fire.

Three roots drink the waters of the home worlds, one in the home world of the gods (Asgard), the Æsir, one in the home world of the giants (Jotunheimr), the Jǫtnar, and one in the home world of the dead.

The root in the Æsir home world taps the sacred wellspring of fate, the Well of Urðr. The tree is protected and tended by the Norns, who live near it. Each day, they water it with pure water and whiten it with clay from the spring to preserve it. The water falls down to the earth as dew. As the Yggdrasil is a cosmic formation rather than a physical tree, it is unknown if the fact the Norns water the tree is metaphorical or literal.
Beneath the root in the world of the frost giants (Jotunns) is the spring of Mimir, whose waters contain wisdom and understanding.

It is said that at the top of the tree, an eagle is located, eagle which generates wind currents with it's wings. This wind is then projected over the world of the men.
At the roots of the tree a dragon known as Niðhǫggr resides.

According to the Norse religion Asatru, the worlds are distributed in the following order:

The three worlds above the earth, in heaven:

1. Múspellsheimr (Muspelheim or Muspell)
2. Álfheimr (Alfheim - Land of the light elves)
3. Ásgarðr (Asgard - Land of the Gods - Valhalla is here)

The three worlds on earth:

4. Vanaheimr (Vanaheim - Home of the Vanir, a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future.)
5. Miðgarðr (Midgard - Earth)
6. Jötunheimr (Jotunheim - Land of the Giants)

The three worlds below the earth, in underworld:

7. Svartálfaheimr (Svartalfheim - land of the dark aka 'bad' elves)
8. Niflhel (Hel) (Land where those who die if old age and illness rest after death)
9. Niflheimr (Niflheim)

All of these supposedly exist in our plane, though I believe it's more metaphysical. I know Earth is not part of a tree, but if we can look beyond the physical world into another realm, I imagine this 'tree' would appear like something out of a Terry Gilliam movie. If Heaven can exist for the Christians in the clouds above earth and Hell in the lava-pits underneath it, then Yggdrasil for me is a faint glimmer of an outline of a huge tree seen on a photo taken of Earth from the Moon or Mars. It may not be where I can get on a plane or in a car and visit the different realms, but to me they exist - just not in this physical world.

3) As for Ragnarok - Ragnarök("Twilight of the Gods"), also called Götterdämmerung, means the end of the cosmos in Norse mythology. It will be preceded by Fimbulvetr, the winter of winters. Three such winters will follow each other with no summers in between. Conflicts and feuds will break out, even between families, and all morality will disappear. This is the beginning of the end. The wolf Skoll will finally devour the sun, and his brother Hati will eat the moon, plunging the earth [into] darkness. The stars will vanish from the sky. The cock Fjalar will crow to the giants and the golden cock Gullinkambi will crow to the gods. A third cock will raise the dead. The earth will shudder with earthquakes, and every bond and fetter will burst, freeing the terrible wolf Fenrir. The sea will rear up because Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent ( A huge wingless snake/dragon like creature who the Vikings believed was so huge he circled the earth), is twisting and writhing in fury as he makes his way toward the land. With every breath, Jormungand will stain the soil and the sky with his poison. The waves caused by the serpent's emerging will set free the ship Naglfar, and with the giant Hymir as their commander, the giants will sail towards the battlefield. From the realm of the dead a second ship will set sail, and this ship carries the inhabitants of hell, with Loki as their helmsman. The fire giants, led by the giant Surt, will leave Muspell in the south to join against the gods. Surt, carrying a sword that blazes like the sun itself, will scorch the earth.

The last battle will be fought everywhere. That's the idea. Both God and Man will be killed and the remaining Gods will see that a man and a woman were hidden in the "bark" of Yggdrasil and they will emerge to help the Gods start again.

There is no physical place for Vigrid, unlike Meggido of the Christian Apocalypse which is supposed to be located in the Middle East, the battlefields of Ragnarok will be in a more spiritual plane, but felt on the physical side of Earth.

To the Followers of the Old Norse Religion, the places above do exist. While each follower has their own interpretation of the physical appearance of the realms and such, we all agree they are present in our time and are just not visible to the naked eye on this plane of existence.

Again - sorry if this turned into a long-winded lesson on Norse Mythology. There's a lot of details which you have to be familiar with when you worship the Gods, and it took me years to learn most of it. With certain questions it's hard to give a good answer unless you explain the beliefs behind it.
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Postby mpbrockman » December 1st, 2012, 11:04 am

Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe there are faeries at the bottom of it too?

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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » December 1st, 2012, 7:41 pm

as a student/fan of Norse mythology (though not a strict devotee), i've been enjoying and geeking out on every single one of your posts, Mike! i have a question i've wondered about in terms of "modern" cosmology in regards to Ygdrassil. with our expanding knowledge of a cosmos beyond just Earth, does "Midgard" still represent our world simply as a planet, or does it encompass the known physical universe? for instance, if Odin were to visit a world in another galaxy, would he still be considered in Midgard? or do such worlds lie outside of the World Tree, or require a separate designation that the original story spinners couldn't have fathomed?

mpbrockman wrote:Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe there are faeries at the bottom of it too?

-D. Adams


more than enough. but it doesn't diminish that beauty to believe in the fairies. 8)
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Postby Spots » December 1st, 2012, 8:11 pm

My friend Dustan is a New Orleans actor and TNM student. He was talking about struggling with atheism. What happens after death?


"Then I realized that life is like an improv scene. In an improv scene you're not caught up in what happens after the scene. The moment exists for that moment."


I felt that was profound & beautiful. Perhaps our next improv scene together will be a celebration of life itself.
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Postby Mike » December 1st, 2012, 8:42 pm

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:as a student/fan of Norse mythology (though not a strict devotee), i've been enjoying and geeking out on every single one of your posts, Mike! i have a question i've wondered about in terms of "modern" cosmology in regards to Ygdrassil. with our expanding knowledge of a cosmos beyond just Earth, does "Midgard" still represent our world simply as a planet, or does it encompass the known physical universe? for instance, if Odin were to visit a world in another galaxy, would he still be considered in Midgard? or do such worlds lie outside of the World Tree, or require a separate designation that the original story spinners couldn't have fathomed?


I would think any world visited in this universe could be considered in the realm of Midgard. We're all on the physical plane and if the technology existed we could go anywhere, so why just limit Midgard to one world? Our Ancestors had little knowledge of the universe so to them "Midgard" was this world. But say we travel to colonize another planet - that should be able to fall under the "Midgard" umbrella, as we are there, our beliefs in the Gods are there, so why wouldn't this world fit in the world tree? The only issue which may change is that Jormungandr, the Midgard serpent, was exclusive to earth according to the Norse. Maybe the new world will develop its own serpent as time passes, but some of the beliefs we have will probably be exclusive only to the planet we now live on.

And according to a few of the faithful I have spoken to Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, has a long reach from Asgard to the other lands - who's to say it doesn't end on a distant planet?

Thanks, Jordan. I'm glad that these posts are making at least a few folks happy.
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Postby Mike » December 1st, 2012, 8:45 pm

mpbrockman wrote:Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe there are faeries at the bottom of it too?

-D. Adams


I can see the garden for the beauty it contains and consider it a separate entity.

And the fey folk who choose to live in the garden also like its beauty - or else they wouldn't have come.

Both are separate. Believe in what you want.
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Postby Chuy! » December 2nd, 2012, 4:21 am

Fuck me, this just got interesting... Mike: This is going to sound like an insult, but it is genuine... Are movies like Thor, The Avengers, and such like a Christian watching The Ten Commandments or Left Behind? Or do you get pissed that they get it wrong... Let's go for drinks soon..
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