I really look forward to Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried’s interviews of practitioners in Iceland. They clear my spiritual palate, so to speak, and refresh my faith in my faith.
His latest interview was with Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson of the Asatruarfelagid or the Æsir Faith Fellowship, an Icelandic pagan group reviving the pre-Christian religion of Scandinavia. Founded in 1972, it was recognized as an official religion by the government of Iceland in 1973.
Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson has been involved since 1972, and is now the high priest of the organization. From Dr. Seigfried’s biographical blurb at the beginning of the first part of the interview, Hilmarsson is an interesting and well rounded person. And like Johanna Haradottir, Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson has some interesting perspectives about faith and practice for Northern European practitioners.
Hilmarsson’s interview jumps from topic to topic in an engaging way. He discusses Crowley, Lovecraft, music, the Eddas, Edda scholarship, and the Aesir Faith Fellowship as a group.
The best and most important bits for me are in Part 2 of the interview, where Hilmarsson talks about polytheism and monotheism. “Monotheism is one truth for the masses, but polytheism is many truths for the individual. In a way, it’s just turning the tables. Basically, you can believe in whatever god or goddess you would like at any given time. You may have a need for Freya on Monday morning, and Thor may be absolutely essential for you on Tuesday afternoon. Nobody can teach you. You have to find it yourself.”
One of the things that Hilmarsson addresses and one of the major issues that we discuss here at Weaving Wyrd, is the American Asatru insistence on orthodoxy.
Hilmarsson says,” If you look at the way that people looked at the gods – they could mock their gods, like in Lokasenna, where they are making huge fun of the gods and Loki’s talking about Odin being a cross-dresser banging a drum and probably f**king some males, as some say. It’s total irreverence. At the same time, people felt good about their gods. They were their friends. They’re not the Other – they’re not different from us.”
It’s an interesting perspective from the land of the sagas.
Not only that, it is a model for what our community could be here across the water. Somewhere where, as Dr. Seigfried says, “When I visited with the members of the Ásatrúarfélagið here in Reykjavík, there was a great diversity of beliefs and difference of interpretation among the members.”
No infighting, no “my belief is better than your belief”. Just people working together to make their part of the world a better place.
Your mileage will most certainly vary.