The Prophecy Of Destiny
A Perplexed God
At first Odin did not consider the Christian question to be much of a problem. The All- Father, and his brothers, had given the human kind a free will to make their own decisions. If they so wished they could switch, and honor different Gods, and not be punished for walking away from their creators. It wasn't until the Valkyries began to come away from the battlefields with fewer and fewer warriors for Valhalla that the Val - Father began to become concerned. At first he asked his serving maidens Hrist and Mist, who respectfully told Odin that he should ask the battlefield Valkyries. The Val - father called them before him one by one. Gunnr, Hildr, Gondul, Skuld, Geirskogul, Skeggjold, Skogul, Thrudr, Hlokk, Herfjotur, Goll, Geirahoth, Randgrith, and Reginleif, all told Odin the same story. " The warriors could not be brought back to Valhalla because their very essence no longer belonged to the old Gods, but to the God whose son had been crucified. Their essence, like their humanity, had free will, and could choose its afterlife as freely as it had made its choices in life. It was then and there that Odin became concerned. The Volva had already told the All- Father of Ragnarok, and he knew that he would need every possible warrior to fight the gathering forces of chaos.
Odin was especially perplexed by how fast the faith was moving into the Northlands, and other Germanic lands, because it had no roots, or standing, in these northern regions . He could not understand why his children would cast aside the Gods of their forefathers for a God, and his son, whose religion and text were bound by the stories, events, and places, of a land all but unknown to them. Even the names in this ' bible ' were foreign to the Norse people ! Jesus, Moses, Solomon, and Matthew, were not names that were given to children in the Northlands ! As Odin continued to stroke his beard, he pondered the question over and over in his mind : " Why are my children abandoning me for a God who has no name ! ? "
Odin had to admit that many of the conversions were forced upon the Norse peoples in one way or another. Some were threatened with physical violence, while most were simply excluded from being allowed to interact with the Christians. And this " interaction " included what was most important to these Norse people, and that of course was their ability to trade with others. As the Christians became greater in numbers there were less and less people for the followers of the old Gods to trade with, and they swiftly watched their wealth bleed away. They had but two choices : Either become poor, and starve, or be baptized, and convert to regain their wealth and their standing in their village. For many it was simply an economic reality that forced them into the new religion.
Most trading came from the sea. Over time the coastal kingdoms of More, Sogn, Hordaland, and Rogaland became Christian ports of entry for goods to enter the Northlands. This left only Agder, Viken, and Ranrike for the Pagans to export and import their goods. Namdalen, and Halogaland, were also still in Pagan hands, but they were so far north that it made them impractical as ports for foreign traders to offload their wares. Odin could see that as the Viking Age was ending, wealth was being generated much more through trading and commerce, than from plundering foreign lands. And those who controlled the ports in the Northlands, also controlled the wealth of the Northlands.
As time went by, Odin watched King Rorik, and later his son Eirik, become more and more intolerant of those who were not Christians. Over time More and Sogn adopted a zero tolerance of Pagan worship as well. The next kingdom to make Christianity the official religion of the land was Rogaland, and their king was the worst of the bunch ! King Halldor had, in just a few short years, converted his kingdom over to Christianity, and he used any and all means necessary in doing so ! Many of his Pagan subjects simply left everything they owned in Rogaland, and sought shelter under the Pagan kingdoms of King Olaf of Hedemark, and King Runolf of Romerike. But the situation was not much better there either, as these two kingdoms had been at war with each other for decades ! King Halldor was by far the worst of the Christian kings, but he was teaching his son Prince Sigtrygg to despise the Pagans even more than he did ! Odin knew that someday Sigtrygg would rule Rogaland, and then the Pagan kingdoms would have to deal with him. " But what to do !? What to do !? " Odin rolled this thought over in his mind until his head ached from the great burden ! Then he said out loud : " If only I knew what was to be. Then maybe, just maybe, I could do something to help my children ! "
Frigga overheard her husband as he spoke. " What vexes you so my love ? " she asked him. As All - Father slowly rose from his high seat the images of the nine worlds faded into a mist, and then into darkness. The blackness of the universe lit by billions and billions of stars was all that remained for the All- Mother to gaze upon. " Will you not tell me what bothers you my husband ? " she asked again. Frigga was not sure that Odin would answer her. The great All- Father often did not share his feelings with others, and this included his wife at times. Odin was an Asgardian who believed that each individual, and that included the Gods, was responsible for the burden of their own problems. He believed that only in extreme circumstances should an individual reach out for help and guidance.
Frigga put her head down, and was about to leave her husband, when she heard him take a deep breath. His voice was unusually uncertain as he spoke : " My people...... my children...... are abandoning us for this new God who has no name. Some are willingly converting to this new religion from the south, but many feel pressured into switching. A few of my children have even been killed for their loyalty to us ! " Odin told her in a dejected voice. Frigga walked over to her husband, placed her hand on his shoulder, and kissed him on the neck. " And what will the All- Father do to stop this ? " she asked.
Odin placed his hand over hers as he spoke : " I am not sure what it is I should do my wife. " he answered shaking his head. Frigga placed her hand on his chin and raised it so she could look him in the eyes. " Will you break your own law, and interfere in the affairs of the humans my love ? " she asked. Odin did not answer the question, but instead sat back down on his high seat. The moment he did so the scene below reflected his thoughts, and Frigga saw Niflheim, and the great gates of Hel.
Without looking away from the images below Odin spoke : " I would like to ride to Hel and awaken the Volva once again. " he told her. Remembering what her husband found out the last time he went to Niflheim, Frigga looked at her husband with an expression of horror. " I would prefer that my husband stay here in Asgard ! " she told him. " I am still shaken by the horrid information the Sibyl gave you the last time ! I have made everything take an oath not to harm our fair son Balder, and yet her prophecy still haunts me everyday ! " she added turning away. Odin looked up from Niflheim, and asked his wife gently : " If this is the only way to find an answer, would you deny me the right to know which path to take ? " Frigga spun around and asked a question of her own : " Why do you not ask Vafthrudnir ? I have heard that he is very knowledgeable. Would he not be a better being to ask than a witch summoned from her grave ? " Odin looked over at his wife, and replied with a regretful smile : " Vafthrudnir has great knowledge of what was, and what now is, but I am afraid he will not know what will be, my wife. " Frigga looked down at Niflheim before replying in a shaky voice : " Then my husband, you must go to Hel and discover the truth of what the future holds for your children. "
As Odin watched his wife leave Hlidskjalf, he thought long and hard about the wisdom of his decision to once again ride to the gates of Hel. Odin feared nothing that he could control, or even manipulate, but the future was something that not even a God as powerful as himself had dominion over. Not even the great All- Father could change that which the Norns had weaved !
- End Chapter 1
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart), © Copyright, 2014.
Next : Chapter 2 : The Ride To Hel