The heathen rites that I’ve attended use at least some Old English or Scandinavian language in the ritual. Mostly during blot but I’ve also heard it in the opening of sumbel. Maybe it’s just habit from being raise Lutheran, but I feel like I actually lose a little bit of the sacredness of the experience from this. I really like to be able to understand exactly what’s being said and at home I use modern English exclusively. To be sure, I can follow the old tongues well enough to know the gist, and I know there’s an arguement for preserving some mystery in religious ritual. Still, though I appreciate the reconstructionist efforts of modern heathen scholars and practitioners, my focus is on bringing heathen faith and practice up to date for the modern world.
So, in the course of the recent furor over mass shootings, gun control, etc, one of the things I’ve been discussing with friends is the role distortions in the modern view of masculinity play in contributing to violence and criminality in our society. I see both 1) skill at arms and the willingness to use them and 2) the wisdom a judgement not to unless really necessary (and to do so justly and responsibly even then) as integral aspects of manliness as epitomized by the gods and heroes of our heathen ancestors. Thor’s strength and Odin’s berserkr rage must be tempered by Tyr’s honor, Baldur’s kindness, and Forseti’s justice. Both sides are necessary, and always in tension.
I see a lot of well intentioned people who seem to want to do away with 1), but I really think this is problematic because 2) necessarily requires and presupposes 1). I see this in the irrational fear of firearms that’s been on display over the past several weeks. But how can one with no familiarity with weapons possibly be qualified to judge how and when they should be used or controled? At the same time I see a fantasy version of 1) absurdly overemphasized in modern pop culture. Not just the glorification of senseless violence in movies, games, and music, but the fact that it’s all so consequence free. Real life punches and bullets hurt and you don’t get to restart your game or hit pause. I think that both of these trends contribute to the problem of violence and crime in society, and that perhaps a broader and better understanding of what it means to be a man, as conveyed by heathen tradition, is at least part of the solution.