Why do (some) Heathens hate Fenris?

Why do (some) Heathens hate Fenris?

Why do (some) Heathens hate Fenris? Image

For the past five months or so, I have struggled to help some of my friends understand the hate aimed at Fenris, and by default His devotees and followers, coming from the Heathen world at large. A couple of my friends have worked hard to try and understand the conflict because it impacts our circle. I am a devotee of Fenris and I am not welcome at many larger Heathen events because of that. I am also leery of Heathen events because I know what I’ll face. My friends care about me and know the frustrations I have over this conflict; I appreciate their efforts to find and make inclusive and affirming spaces for all, including followers of the Rokku/r.

As this conversation has grown, other non-Norse Pagans have also tried to understand the conflict. I’m going to address this as a clearly biased source.

Fenris eats Odin.

According to lore, the end of times story of Ragnarok involves Fenris, and His family along with his entire race, meeting Odin, His Family and his race in battle to the death. The result is that Fenris consumes Odin, thus killing. This is, of course, after Odin directs the Gods of Asgard to abduct child Fenris, and His siblings, and eventually bind and torture Him. Odin is the head God of the Norse Pantheon. If one is Heathen, chances are that they honor, worship or venerate Odin in some fashion.  If something kills your God, it is easy to label it bad or even evil. The lore is filled with conflict between the Gods of Asgard and the Jotun race. The stories are told of Jotun kidnapping Idunn, trying to steal Freya, constant battles between Thor and various named and unnamed Jotun. The prophecy of the Voluspa is the very doom of the Gods of Asgard at the hands of the Jotun. Typically, the Jotun Powers are not even labeled as Gods. They’re the antagonist, if you hold that specific view of the lore. The Gods of Asgard are good so anyone opposing them is bad. However, such binary good and bad concepts are not the norm in Paganism. They’re very Abrahamic.

The Heathen/Christian conflict

Nearly all of the existing Heathen lore we have today was written down by a Christian and contains a very Christianized view of their lore. The peoples of Northern Europe were one of the last to convert to Christianity (out of European peoples). The Hellinics, the Romans, the Celtics and then shortly after, the Norse were all Pagans and then converted, by force or choice, to Christianity. Many of the farmers that went on Vikings (yes, the Vikings were farmers) were already Christians. Christianity had spread to the Nordic countries at the start of the Viking age, by the end of it, most of “the vikings” were Christian. 400 years after the peoples of the Nordic countries began to convert to Christianity, Snorri wrote the lore down. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but the practices and world view of whom we would now label as Heathens, was already becoming Christianized.  Heathenry is a pretty Christian religion, as far as Pagan traditions go. They merged together before Snorri wrote the stories down as a monk; they were blended and synced long before Asatru became a thing.

It is only natural for a Heathen to have a world view something similar to Christianity, even more so for someone ascribing to the label of Asatru. Ill argue, even MORE so for an Odinist.

Odin, as the Allfather, is good with some flaws on the side. A Creator that breaths life into humankind and therefore we owe Him some sort of allegiance… what is his adversary? We cannot deny that Fenris is Odin’s Adversary. Odin avoids Him at all cost. At no point in the lore to they even talk to one another. Tyr offers to raise Fenris, Thor, Tyr and Freyr bind Fenris. Until Ragnarok, Odin doesn’t appear to go near Fenris. Fenris is Odin’s doom and the lore is filled with Odin aiming to avoid His own doom and downfall. Of course, Rokkatrur tend to say Odin caused His downfall by ordering the abduction of Angrboda and Loki’s children to begin with but that’s anther argument for another blog post.

The short answer is that (some) Heathens hate Fenris because they do have a binary world view, even of the spiritual powers and if Odin is good, Fenris must be bad. That world view is not nessicarily wrong, it just is. It’s simplistic to the point of my distaste, but it is a world view that exists and exists in large numbers in American Asatru communities.