I read a post over on Huginn’s Heathen Hof and that made me think about Rokkatru, that is, the worship of the Jotunn and other denizens which are not part of the Aesir or the Vanir. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit, since once of my gods is the goddess Skadi, who has been included in the Rokkatru faith. For this reason, I’d like to explore the Rokkatru side of Heathenry and whether it fits in with Heathenry….READ MORE of my PREMIUM CONTENT for Just $1.
I thought since I made the comment about Ragnarok, I should probably delve into the story of Ragnarok. As a rational heathen, I thought Ragnarok was a load of crap added by Christianity to provide a “changing of the guard” from pagan to Christian. After all, it’s easier to worship the white Christ if your gods are dead. Naturally, Tyr had something to say about that.
What is the Twilight of the Gods?
But before I get into that, let’s look at Ragnarok in brief. Ragnarok, or the Twilight of the Gods, speaks of an apocalyptic scenario where the Aesir and Vanir go to the final battle against the forces of chaos. We will suffer three winters in a row without summer called Fimbulvetr, Sunna and Mani (the sun and moon) will be swallowed by the wolves that follow them, the stars will disappear, and the earth will shake. The gods along with warriors from Asgard, and I presume from any hall in Asgard, will fight the Jotun and Loki’s children in one last battle. Odin dies, Thor dies, Tyr dies, Freyr dies; everyone gets wiped out except Víðarr, Váli, Móði and Magni. The fire giants set the nine worlds ablaze. Two humans, Líf and Lífþrasir, will survive somehow encased in Yggdrasil. Beyond that, we’re left to start again.
Some of the things that struck me with this apocalypse is the relative similarity to Revelations and other apocryphal texts (see what I did there?). It’s so close to the Christian teachings that I was sure it was just something borrowed. That was before I had the UPG.
Yeah, Tyr actually interjected into my meditation and told me Ragnarok will happen. Seriously, bro? You mean Fenrir is eating Odin and everything? Yep. But the story as written is tainted with Christian and metaphorical trappings. Ragnarok is a cycle and not just the end of the world. For those who have proposed this or been inspired through UPGs to propose this, you’ll be glad to hear I actually concur with you. Ragnarok has happened and will happen again. Same players throughout time. It’s how the Wyrd spins the universe. Our universe is part of the multiverse and the final fight comes down to the destruction of Midgard, whether it is Earth or the universe we inhabit. Is Sutri’s fire from the sun as it expands? Or is it a tear in the fabric of the universe that causes other universes to leak into ours? I have no clue. But I do understand that it is a metaphor for things to come. Or things that have come before.
When is Ragnarok?
Then, there’s the question of actually when is Ragnarok? The stories I’ve read seem to imply that it has already occurred. If it has, it has happened in the ancient past, and I’m not talking millions, but billions of years ago. Try before our universe came into existence some 13.82 billion years ago. Give or take a few years. Either that, or it’s the Christians trying to bring closure to our stories so that we accept that our gods are dead through Ragnarok. If it’s something in our future, then Ragnarok may also be something in our past, but I doubt strongly that any of us alive to read this blog will experience it within our current lifetimes. If for some weird reason that does happen while you’re reading this post, well, good luck. I am probably long dead by then. Unless there’s some sort of bizarre timey wimey stuff going on that my feeble brain isn’t getting right now because I haven’t had my tea yet. Then again, the theory about a block universe may be right, time is an illusion, and everything exists somewhere in spacetime.
The End of All Things
Those who are of the Christian and Muslim faiths believe in apocalypse, albeit with different endings. Even the origin of Ragnarok is debatable, whether it comes from beliefs of the Proto–Indo-European peoples before they finally separated and made the story their own, or whether it was somehow taken from the poem, Muspille.
My guess is that people embellish what Ragnarok looks like in order to put into understandable terms how bad this could go. Without a decent frame of reference, talking scientific theories to our ancestors would be talking gibberish. Our ancestors from ten thousand years ago were not stupid. They had the same brains we have. But they didn’t have the technology we do, nor did they have the knowledge to comprehend what we understand now. Assuming humans survive ten thousand years from now and continue to progress at the rate we are progressing, my guess is that our technology might be as baffling to us as it would be to our ancestors. Unless our ancestors were educated to how our world works most of the things we use daily would seem like magic.
End of the Universe
What does science have to say about this? Well, obviously humans have a fair number of hurdles to survive before we reach the end of the Universe, assuming it does end. Putting those aside for another blog, physicists point to the Universe doing one of four things: the Big Freeze, the Big Crunch, the Big Rip, or the Big Bounce. None of these theories are proven, but all seem to have their proponents and detractors.
The Big Freeze
The first would be that it could simply expand and continue toward its low energy state. In other words, entropy takes over and the universe cools to the point where everything is at an equilibrium because it continues its progression toward infinity. This is called “the Big Freeze” in physics, and makes Fimbulvetr look toasty warm. There is no energy to sustain life and everything goes somewhere near absolute zero. Sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it? This assumes an infinite Universe.
The Big Crunch
Then, there’s the Big Crunch. Based on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, the Big Crunch is the answer to the Big Bang that created our universe. It also assumes a finite Universe. If the universe reaches a critical density, gravitation attraction will pull everything back to where it started, create a massive black hole, and swallow up everything. Hence the name “Big Crunch.” But we don’t know if that will really happen because we know that the Universe is actually increasing its rate of expansion in places that are furthest from us. Hence we’re dealing with “dark energy”which is constant in our Universe. This fact leads to…
The Big Rip
The theory of the Big Rip takes the Big Freeze one step further. Dark energy is to blame for this one where the expansion continues to the point where nothing we know is recognizable. The Universe never disappears, it just becomes scattered even more than in the Big Freeze. Everything breaks down, even at the atomic level. There is no energy to hold anything together and atoms fall apart and scatter into quarks. Depending on which camp of scientists you talk to, it may or may not happen. Latest I’ve read is that in 22 billion years the Universe will undergo the Big Rip. Researchers in Vanderbilt University have pretty much said this, but given the fact that our understanding of the Universe changes with each discovery, it’s hard to decide if this is just the flavor of the day for the ending of the Universe, or whether it will stick.
At the moment, think of it as a really bad Fimbulvetr if this is a new concept for you. Everything is cold and nothing can ever be put back together. Think Humpty Dumpty.
The Big Bounce
The Big Bounce is probably the most interesting, but at this point, data doesn’t seem to support it. It’s like a Big Crunch, only with the potential of expanding outward again in another inflationary period similar to the Big Bang. The problem is that it requires dark energy to halt its repulsive effects on matter and gravity to take effect (like the Big Crunch). It goes one step further in that when the Big Crunch occurs, spacetime will warp and become chaotic near the singularity, causing an “explosion” and a creation of a new universe. Of all the theories proposed, I think it’s the closest thing to Ragnarok, but science doesn’t currently support the theory that well.
So, Where Does that Leave Us?
So, where does that leave us with Ragnarok? Fuck if I know. Seriously. I only have Tyr’s word that Ragnarok is real, but what it is, I haven’t a clue. I don’t doubt that he’s telling me the truth, but I don’t know what that truth means necessarily. Maybe it’s about the fate of the Universe. Maybe it’s the fate of the Earth. Maybe it’s not about any of it. Maybe I’m delusional and only think it might happen. Or maybe we don’t know enough through science yet.
Science, as I’ve said in earlier posts, isn’t a belief system. It deals with explaining the Universe around us. It is not dogmatic like religion. It changes as we learn new information. Religion, on the other hand, deals with faith and belief. You either think it’s right or you don’t. There aren’t any wishy-washy maybes in explanation, but explanations are often metaphorical. I’m sure you have your own beliefs about the end of the universe.
What I believe in terms of Ragnarok doesn’t change anything. If it happens, it happens, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I don’t believe anything I can do will change that. And 22 billion years is an exceedingly long time to wait to find out if I’m right or wrong. Besides, the sun will consume the Earth in about 7 billion years, but we realistically only have a couple billion years to get off this rock before the sun cooks the planet. That’s assuming we don’t wipe ourselves out, an asteroid doesn’t create a mass extinction event similar to the dinosaurs, we get a lovely blast of gamma rays from a dying star, or the earth decides to shake us off with massive volcanic eruptions similar to the Siberian Traps. To quote Q from Star Trek:
“It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it’s not for the timid.”
I’m not a Lokean. So, when I talk about Loki, I’m probably talking bullshit. Loki, to me, is the chaos god, pure and simple. He and his children bring disorder from order. He’s also the god of fire. If you look at his parents, Laufey (Leaves) and Farbauti (Evil Striker), he’s fire from a Jotun who causes wildfires. So, we’re looking at an untamed, natural force. Also chaos.
Tyr is my main god. He brings order. He sacrificed his right hand to contain the ultimate destructive chaos: Fenrir. Even though Fenrir slays Odin in Ragnarok, Garm, slays Tyr. (For those who need UPG warning, here it is) Garm is really just another form of Fenrir. Technically Chaos will overcome Law, which is why I believe Garm=Fenrir. Tyr, incidentally, concurs.
But Back to Loki
I have heard Loki occasionally. He’s sort of a pest when he wants to be. Other times, I get the feeling he’s been a misunderstood trickster. I can see his appeal. I love the stories about Thor and Loki traveling to Jotunheim. Loki is very fun in these stories. In fact, until he tricks Hodur to kill Baldur, he’s just a trickster with some very attractive but dangerous aspects.
Of course, Tom Hiddleston of the Marvel Thor movies, probably adds to the allure as a bad boy and creates some Lokeans. That being said, I don’t see Loki as the Marvel Loki. Maybe that’s because I recognize him when he shows up to pester me no matter what form he takes? He is not a god I particularly want to antagonize, but he isn’t one I turn to for help as a rule. If I have problems with Loki getting wild, I can turn to Tyr and Thor for help. Beyond that, I really don’t have much interaction with him, except when Tyr sent him to me. (Long story, that).
Is Loki the Enemy?
Many of those in Asatru tend to think Loki is evil and an enemy. In fact, many heathens argue that Loki isn’t a god at all since he came from giant blood. But that really doesn’t make much sense. If it did, then we’d have to discount Thor, Skadi, and Tyr as gods because of their frost giant blood. I don’t think of Loki as evil and I actually do consider him a god, but he’s not my god, either. I see Loki as a necessity for the universe to work, but he can be dangerous without controls. I look at Loki as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. If you don’t recall it from high school or college physics class, it states that energy states go toward the lowest point of energy. Basically things progress toward entropy. As a teacher once said in physics class: “Things fall apart and break, homes get messy, and students fall asleep.”
Those who dedicate themselves to Loki (who aren’t the Marvel fan girls/boys who are just worshiping an actor) need to have an understanding of what exactly they’re pledging themselves to. Loki isn’t evil, but he isn’t good either. He simply is. Misunderstood? Perhaps. Troublesome? Often. I look at Loki as a god who probably takes the name Murphy occasionally. At the same time, he can bring about tremendous good as well. It’s unexpected, but that’s his nature.
Lokeans — Or Loki’s Fan Girls/Boys
I’m friends with people who are Lokeans. Even though most Lokeans seem to be nice folk, Lokeans are sort of the peeps whom many in Asatru wish would just go away. To be honest with you, I think many of them are a lot more interesting and fun than many who follow Odin. I certainly like them better than the Odinists who pervert Heathenry into Neo-Nazism. Most of Loki’s fans are neat, creative people. Some of them claim to be Loki’s wives. As puzzling as it might be, who am I to say what that trickster is up to? Not my circus; not my monkeys. Do I believe in these things? Eh, not so much. But this is my belief and I really haven’t explored the subject. So, if you’re a Loki wife and you’re pissed, don’t be. I’m willing to at least consider it happens, but I don’t know to whom or why.
Rokkatru and Fenrir Fans
Now, whether you think that the whole Rokkatru sect is crazy for embracing Fenrir and Loki, think about why they might. I suspect it’s along the lines of what seems unfair in the writings we have. I, too, have problems with the binding of Fenrir because the wolf didn’t do anything. But maybe it’s more of a symbol how chaos must be kept in check or we lose the universe. After all, without physics, we’d be dealing with–well, something that looks remarkably like Ragnarok. So, the wolf had to be bound, but at a cost. Hence we talk about Tyr losing his right hand. What does that symbolize? Obviously a loss of power to control chaos to keep this universe from shaking apart.
My Feelings about Rokkatru
I honestly don’t care if you follow Rokkatru. We may be opposites in some ways because of your beliefs, but that doesn’t make you my enemy in this lifetime. Your words, actions, and deeds make me decide whether you’re my friend or foe. You aren’t someone I have a quarrel with unless you do something that violates my ethics. That being said, I do have some advice: be aware whose side you’ll be on whenever Ragnarok comes. In that case, you and I may be on opposite sides. I don’t have a problem with this because no matter how many lives we all have, we’re pretty much bound by the Wyrd. Just don’t cross me in this lifetime and I’m sure we’ll be okay.