I’m under no obligation to believe my own UPG

I’m under no obligation to believe my own UPG. Seems strange to say, but just because it pops into my head doesn’t mean I have to or even should believe whatever it is.

I’ve been a pagan for a long time, and over the years I’ve accrued some measure of UPG. Lots of little events, a couple sanity shattering events. However, just because it comes to me doesn’t make it the truth. A god could beam the whole story of the universe into my brain and tell me it was the gospel truth and I would maintain a measure of skepticism. Why? Because the gods are not infallible.

Our stories and myths are filled with instances where the gods don’t know something; they don’t know something so they go searching for answers. Furthermore, their understanding of whatever it is is only as good as the source of their information. Our stories and myths also have beings that lie to our gods or the stories even have our gods lie. The gods can and do lie. Also the gods can and do make mistakes. If the gods can make mistakes, can be mistaken, can be lied to, and can lie in turn then why would we trust divine communication wholesale?

And here is why the lore is important to me. The lore is the accumulated stories and myths of the ancient heathen peoples. They lived and worshipped and practiced their religion for thousands of years, it was engrained into their culture and even left indelible signs that have persisted to today. Those people, over hundreds of generations and across numerous cultures and subcultures, developed and evolved their beliefs as time progressed. That came to a halt at conversion, those beliefs were distilled and sometimes interpreted by Christians before being written down. That snapshot of the lore represents a moment in time right at the end of the cultural and religious development of pagan beliefs in the ancient times. But also it represents the combined collaborative effort of untold hundreds of thousands or even millions of ancient heathens over thousands of years who had experienced the gods, understood their nature, and lived a life connected with them who had then transmitted the stories of the gods to the next generation who each added new confirmation with every new person those stories interacted with. And the high level of agreement across different Indo-European groups for certain myths shows further confirmation. The names shifted with linguistics, but the stories, well, the details would morph depending but not the core truths of it. The undedstandings of Thor and Thunor and Donner remained very much in line with each other across the centuries and across a vast region filled with many different tribes that were very diverse. That overall continuity in belief shows the value in the lore. It’s tried and tested by those ancient peoples, and yeah it got a tiny bit touched by some Christians but their hands are usually very obvious and can be looked around as needed.

But here is the rub. Sometimes we try to put our UPG as tantamount to gospel even if only to ourselves. However to assume that the gods who are fallible and who do lie somehow cannot or will not or do not lie to you alone just doesn’t fly in my book. And if my UPG goes against the lore directly, am I to assume that somehow those many thousands of people over thousands of years were all somehow misled or mistaken and yet I alone have the right of it? It seems kind of hubristic. No, for me, I choose to be skeptical of my own UPG. I choose to research it and weigh it out and see where it could fit and see if it’s true, partly true, or a misunderstanding by me or a lie by divinity and in those cases false. Not only do I not hold my own UPG as gospel, I don’t carry any illusion that I should misconstrue my own UPG as anything close to fact towards others. I am under no obligation to believe my own UPG and you’re under no obligation to believe it either.

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Loki, a Redesman, and “Weak Lore”

John T. Mainer, member of the Troth Rede, recently made a very public post bearing the title “Loki, Discord, and Weak Lore”. In this Mainer alleges the use of weak lore or the weak use of lore by others and makes what is intended to be a lore-based argument for Loki. He also alleges that many are “cherry picking” the lore. Yet throughout his piece there are numerous lore errors, absences, and misinterpretations, as well as several instances where statements are given with no basis in the lore whatsoever but are passed off as fact. In my opinion, it is not befitting of an officer of the Troth’s Rede to make these kinds of lore errors, much less with the Troth seeming to endorse them with the Troth logo on his page as well as featuring the article on their public page as the “POV [point of view] of a Redesman” thereby seeming to give it official weight and standing as the Troth view.

 

What follows are lore corrections to his piece.

On Hercules: “In a fit of rage he killed his first wife, and was forced to do his twelve labours as atonement.”
Hercules is regarded to have been inflicted with madness (mental illness), not rage, by Hera. He kills his family in this state and when he has recovered he is so overcome with grief and sadness that on his own volition he seeks a way to atone at the Delphic Oracle. He is told that in order to atone he should put himself in service to king Eurystheus who then assigns to Hercules the twelve labors, originally ten but with two added.

 

On the kidnapping of Iðunn:
In this story, the eagle formed Thjazi strikes a bargain with the gods Odin, Hœnir, and Loki that he will be allowed to eat his fill of the ox they caught in bargain for allowing them to cook the remainder. “They assented to this.” Then Thjazi “forthwith at the very first took unto himself the two hams of the ox, and both shoulders. Then Loki was angered, snatched up a great pole, brandished it with all his strength, and drove it at the eagle’s body.” Odin and Hœnir did not break their oath with Thjazi, Loki did. Loki assented and then broke his oath to the giant for which the giant swooped him up and flew about until Loki “cried aloud, entreating the eagle urgently for peace”. Loki bargains with the giant and Thjazi asks that  Loki would give “him his oath to induce Idunn to come out of Ásgard with her apples. Loki assented”.  To do this Loki lies to her and convinces her to follow him, saying that he had found some really awesome apples. Iðunn is swooped up by Thjazi. Loki only agrees to save her because he is “threatened with death, or tortures”.

The Prose Edda (Gylfaginning) of Snorri Sturlson (Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur)

 

On Sif:
Yes the story is that he steals her hair and returns with treasures, but it doesn’t say why he stole her hair and violated her in that way, merely that it was bad enough that Thor “seized Loki, and would have broken every bone in him, had he not sworn to get the Black Elves to make Sif hair of gold, such that it would grow like other hair”. And so Loki returns with golden hair and other treasures. But there is one issue, a nagging problem in the Lokasenna when Loki chastises Sif for being unchaste.

Loki says:

“Alone thou wert | if truly thou wouldst

All men so shyly shun;

But one do I know | full well, methinks,

Who had thee from Hlorrithi’s arms”

Lokasenna (54)

The issue here is that Hlorrithi is a byname of Thor and Loki is here slutshaming Sif for having another man besides Thor. Yet this could also reference darker deeds if it is related to the event with the hair. I’ll be the first to say that this aspect is theory as it is not spelled out in the lore.

The Prose Edda (Skáldskaparmal) of Snorri Sturlson (Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur)
The Poetic Edda (Lokasenna) (Translated by Henry Adams Bellows)

 

The Lokasenna:
You say “His behaviour is poor guesting, rude and boorish beyond doubt” and this is true, but you neglected to mention that by poor guesting you must mean commits murder under the hospitality of another. “Ægir had two serving-men, Fimafeng and Eldir. Glittering gold they had in place of firelight; the ale came in of itself; and great was the peace. The guests praised much the ability of Ægir’s serving-men. Loki might not endure that, and he slew Fimafeng.” Yes, you read that right, Loki kills someone else in this story too. Then he comes back only to vow to give his reason for coming back as:

“In shall I go | into Ægir’s hall,

For the feast I fain would see;

Bale and hatred | I bring to the gods,

And their mead with venom I mix.”

Lokasenna (3) trans. By Bellows

 

“In I shall, though, into Ægir’s hall –

fain would I see that feast;

brawls and bickering I bring the gods,

their ale I shall mix with evil.”

Lokasenna (3) trans. by Hollander

 

Later in the Lokasenna he freely admits to killing Baldr, giving corroboration to the event in both the Prose and Poetic Eddas.

 

Frigg spake:

“If a son like Baldr | were by me now,

Here within Ægir’s hall,

From the sons of the gods | thou shouldst go not forth

Till thy fierceness in fight were tried.” (27)

 

Loki spake:

“Thou wilt then, Frigg, | that further I tell

Of the ill that now I know;

Mine is the blame | that Baldr no more

Thou seest ride home to the hall.” (28)

Lokasenna (27-28) trans. By Bellows

“Mine is the blame” says Loki. He says this straight to the victim’s mother, not hours after killing Femafeng. So if you want reason for him being bound, it is not just in his words alone but in his deeds.

 

Oh his binding the Poetic and Prose Eddas disagree on which of his sons became the wolf and which was torn asunder; the names are reversed in each.

The Poetic Edda (Lokasenna) (Translated by Henry Adams Bellows)

The Poetic Edda (Lokasenna) (Translated by Lee M. Hollander)

The Prose Edda (Gylfaginning) of Snorri Sturlson (Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur)

 

On Rindr:
The account you reference is not found in the Poetic Edda, nor in the Prose Edda, Rindr is not raped in either of these accounts. Instead the account where Odin supposedly rapes Rindr is found in Saxo Grammticus’ Gesta Danorum where throughout the piece the gods do not really appear as gods as we know them but as warring kings of ancient time misconstrued as gods. In the tale Odin is Woden and Rindr is apparently Rhlda, but the child born is not Vali but Boe and he slays Hother not immediately but years later after long fought wars. In this way it is very difficult to say that Odin raped Rindr as what we have is Saxo’s work and in there the gods live in Byzantium which is fairly telling that it was not a piece which is suitable to be used without corroboration. In the Prose Edda, Rindr is mentioned only as Vali’s mother and that in one unexplained line “Odin wrought charms on Rindr” which in the old Norse was “Seið Yggr til Rindar” and with Seið as the form of magic in this case there is no other context to say what that may mean. In the Poetic Edda it says “Rind bears Vali | in Vestrsalir” and that is really the whole of her appearance.

Gesta Danorum (Book III) by Saxo Grammticus (Translated by Oliver Elton)

The Prose Edda (Skáldskaparmal) of Snorri Sturlson (Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur)

The Poetic Edda (Baldrs Draumar) (Translated by Henry Adams Bellows)

 

Regarding Svaðilfari:
Nowhere in the attested lore is the horse, Svaðilfari, supposed to be a dragon. The story is relayed in the Prose Edda in Gylfaginning.

The Prose Edda (Gylfaginning) of Snorri Sturlson (Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur)

 

Regarding Jörmungandr:

Nowhere in the lore, in either Edda, is it stated that Jörmungandr was the serpent bound above Loki, merely a serpent. The story is relayed in the Prose Edda in Gylfaginning and the Poetic Edda in the Lokasenna.

The Poetic Edda (Lokasenna) (Translated by Henry Adams Bellows)

The Prose Edda (Gylfaginning) of Snorri Sturlson (Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur)

 

Other Points:

“Loki’s crimes are largely not his deeds, but his methods.”

I would contend otherwise, it is also not merely his deeds but who ends up being the target of his misdeeds that is important. How Loki gets things done is of little concern to me, but what he does and who he does it to is very much important.

“Lets be really clear about this, Loki is bound for his insults, not for the role that later lore ascribes to him as Baldur’s doom”
This is incorrect, first it is not just in later sources that Baldr’s death is assigned to him as he brags about it within the Lokasenna to Frigg before all the gods as has already been referenced. Second, the reason for his binding is then given in the Prose Edda: “Then said Gangleri: ‘Exceeding much Loki had brought to pass, when he had first been cause that Baldr was slain, and then that he was not redeemed out of Hel. Was any vengeance taken on him for this?’ Hárr answered: ‘This thing was repaid him in such wise that he shall remember it long.’” The key here being that Loki is bound specifically for the death of Baldr and the prevention of him being resurrected. Along with his bragging about it in the Lokasenna and both the Prose and Poetic Eddas describing his means of capture and binding, the stories provide each other corroboration. The end result is that his being bound is a direct result of Baldr’s death.

The Prose Edda (Gylfaginning) of Snorri Sturlson (Translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur)

The Poetic Edda (Lokasenna) (Translated by Henry Adams Bellows)

 

Mainer’s piece may be found here: https://mainer74.wordpress.com/2018/11/29/loki-discord-and-weak-lore/