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We’re glad to have Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen join us as a guest blogger! He is a Norwegian novelist, screenwriter and blogger, as well as a skilled craftsman and wilderness survivalist who builds bridges between the Viking Age and today. Here is his fifth blog post exclusively written for Grimfrost and there will be more exclusive content to come.

I am often asked to explain and help people understand the Norse gods and Ásatru. The fact that people ask me to do this is of course a compliment, but it’s also quite impossible to provide absolute answers. In fact, I would say that those who claim to know the full meaning of any Norse god is sort of missing the point. Yes, we know a lot about the Norse gods, but there are no absolutes when it comes to the Norse faith. It is, and it should be, highly individual, and it probably was back then too. The yes/no, black/white, good/bad way of thinking belongs to the Abrahamic religions; Ásatru is much more fluid than that.

So if you say that Thor is a warrior god, I’m okay with that, even though to me, he’s all about fertility. If you claim that Freya is a goddess of romance, I have no problems with that, but to me, she is a goddess of sex, feminine beauty, and war. For every Norse god, there will be different interpretations, and as long as we don’t use the Marvel Comics version, I don’t think there should be any right or wrong. The Norse gods are powerful symbols and idols, and your personality and the obstacles you encounter will decide which of them you connect with. Personally, the Norse gods I feel closest to are Tyr, Odin, Bragi and Cernunnos. Yes, I know, the last one on the list isn’t Norse, but Celtic. But he is still important to me and I’ll tell you why in a moment. But first, let me tell you a little bit about what these four gods mean to me.

Tyr is to me a god of duty, obligation and doing what’s right even if doing the right thing is very hard. He is also the main character in three of my novels (not yet published in English). I lived, breathed, and thought like Tyr for several years, writing those books. At times the relationship was so close, it was hard to tell myself apart from him. Also, he became hugely important to me not only because of my writing, but because I wrote those books when my kids were young, and doing what’s right became more important to me than ever. Tyr is a god of war – everyone knows that – but to me, he is also a moral compass.

Odin is to me someone who watches my struggles and gives me strength. He is close to me out in the woods and out on the ocean as well. Odin is not an old man to me. He has no shape, nor does he have any voice. He is an immaterial presence that watches not only my struggles, but my actions as well. I like the idea that only the worthy are allowed a seat in Valhalla, and I try to live in an honorable way. I know people these days like to mock the very idea of honor. The word itself has been twisted and is now being used to describe mostly negative things, like the so-called honor killings (which actually are the opposite of honor). But I don’t care about these modern twists to perfectly fine and meaningful words. I try to live with honor, and I hope to die that way too.

Bragi is the god of poetry, but it’s not because I’m a novelist that I feel close to him. Bragi is simply a representation of the lighter aspects of life. He is the one telling me not to worry and to enjoy life. He is the easy-going fellow who puts his hand on my shoulder and tells me that I need a party. He is usually right, too.

Cernunnos is, as I mentioned, not a Norse god. But the Norse faith never existed in a vacuum, and spiritually Cernunnos is perhaps the most important deity to me. He is a Celtic god of nature, wild animals, and fertility. Cernunnos is the feeling I get when I’m out in the woods and I listen to the wind blowing through the treetops. He is the feeling I get when I see the first snowbells of spring or a newborn roe deer following its mother through a misty meadow. And while the Norse gods represent the world around me, spiritually and physically, Cernunnos represents who and what I am, if that makes any sense.

So who are your gods? Which are closest to you? I think getting to know the gods is a process that should not be stressed or hasted. It needs time. Maybe even a lifetime.

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