Those of us with a German or Norse ethnic background have sometimes felt reluctant to look more deeply into our mythologies. In part this is because they are associated with conquest, and in part because the Nazis trashed them in their attempt to regress to the thought patterns of an earlier time. But these, our stories, were never intended for that; and they need reclaiming and dreaming onward for reasons similar to the need for Christians and Muslims to reclaim their spiritual roots from theocrats who wage wars in the name of the Prophet Muhammad or the Prince of Peace. The river of spirit has gotten polluted, but its headwaters remain clear and nourishing.

Very often seekers who abandon Western culture for Eastern or Native American do not realize the depths of what they leave behind. Our stories examine reincarnation, spiritual energy, gift exchange, the vitality of the soul, and the spirit of place. In the old Nordic worldview everything is in flux and begins, balances out from, and ends with polarities akin to yin and yang. Even the gods are subject to this, undergo transformation, and often pay for what they gain with a corresponding loss. Our concept of wyrd directly relates one’s actions and intentions to personal and intergenerational consequences similar to karma. But our way of understanding these things reflects our own cultural framework and traditions. Coming home to them often increases respect for those of other cultures while eliminating the desperate drive to uproot and appropriate.

Craig Chalquist, MS PhD

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