Lesson Six: Time, Fate, and Community

 

Readings

  • Eyrbyggja’s Saga, Chapters 1-20
  • The Poetic Edda:
    • Hávamál (“Sayings of the High One”)
    • Guðrúnarkviða I (“The First Lay of Gudrún”)
    • Sigurðarkviða hin skamma (“A Short Poem about Sigurd”)
    • Helreið Brynhildar (“Brynhild's Ride to Hell”)
    • Dráp Niflunga (“The Death of the Niflungs”)
    • Guðrúnarkviða II (“The Old Lay of Gudrún”)
    • Guðrúnarkviða III (The Third Lay of Gudrún”)
    • Oddrúnargrátr (“Oddrún's Lament”)
    • Atlakviða (“The Lay of Atli”). (“The Greenlandic Poem of Atli”)

Select one of the following introductory guides:

  • A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Ásatrú
    • Seven: Weird and Orlog
    • Eight: Concepts of Time
    • Nine: Innangardh and Utangarth
  •  
  • Essential Ásatrú
    • Lesson Five: Troth and Culture

Exercises:

  1. What proverbial advice does the Hávamál present? Do these form an ethical system? Or are they merely practical suggestions for living life?
  2. Some scholars apply to the Norse material the concept of útgarðr (out-yard) and innangarð (in-yard). Do you find these concepts useful? Make a list of all the people in your life who you consider part of your personal in-yard (ie family, kindred, friends, community). Examine the way that some people fit into more than one category, and think about how this impacts your view of the world.
  3. How do you, as a heathen, hold true to your virtues and ethical system when faced with non-heathen situations? Consider the ways in which your behavior and actions model the virtues of our ancestors when at work, "out on the town," or engaged with your non-heathen family and friends. Write down ways in which you can see the overlap, and ways in which you find yourself "different" due to your heathen value system.
  4. Make a list of all the oaths and promises you have made in your life, prior to becoming heathen and as a heathen. Which did you fulfill? Which did you not? Consider what your actions say about you, and then consider the promises other people have made to you in the past and fulfilled or not. What does this tell you about the importance of oaths in heathen society?
  5. What is the Nibelung/Niflung/Volsung cycle of poems and stories? How do they help inform us about heathen behavior?
  6. What is a saga? Why are the Icelandic Sagas important to heathens today?
  7. What does Eyrbyggja’s Saga show us about (alleged) pre-Conversion heathen beliefs and practices? Why is there reason to be skeptical of its information?
  8. How do the characters in Eyrbyggja’s Saga interact with law and the legal system? What role does law play in their lives and in shaping their behavior?
  9. Do the characters in Eyrbyggja’s Saga appear fated for certain destinies? How can you tell?

Heathen Essentials Index