Since we have already discussed the first Giants or Etins in the creation story, it is now time to progress to the role of these creatures of Chaos after civilization has been established.
Heimdall taught the humans all sorts of skills to help them create a culture, giving them the holy fire as well as the sacred Galdur.
But now the Giantess named Gullveig comes with her evil Seidr to turn the hearts of men and women towards those practices that would tear their civilization apart.
Heimdall binds them with law and faith and community and folk, while Gullveig separates them with avarice, perversion, narcissism, and hate.
Heimdall’s Galdur consists of holy prayers and chants to the Gods for peace and prosperity (ár ok friðr), while Gullveig’s Seidr rejects the Gods altogether and instead feeds the Self, the ego as the central force of its power.￼
“The first thing [Heimdall] taught his children was self-control; the other was love of virtue, and when they had developed he taught them the worth of freedom. For without freedom, he said, are all other virtues good only to make you into slaves, your heritage to everlasting shame” (XX.7).
Compare this beautiful and benevolent statement to Gullveig’s declaration to her father, Hrimnir:
“Stand up, Father! I will incite a war in the world whereby Odin and the other Gods will suffer agony and anxiety. In the war, I shall spew so much poison on the pure men and on the beasts of burden that they shall not live. I will kill their souls. I will torment the waters, I will torment the plants, torment Heimdall’s fire, torment all of creation.” (XXII.2)
So Gullveig goes house to house spreading her dark arts and bringing forth the corruption of the Gods’ creation.
From this comes nids or crimes, the first violations of Heimdall’s laws and the vices that would counteract his virtues. Murder, perjury, adultery, sacrilege, greed, thievery, treason, slander, and cruelty are sown into the hearts of humankind and begin to bring about their ruin. In my view and experience, all of these vices stem from one overall concept that lies within us all in varying degrees, and that is selfishness.
Psychologists believe that the underlying common denominator amongst most criminals is a mental capacity that is driven towards pleasing themselves, and they thus examine every situation in regards to how it benefits them. When breaking the law, one typically does so to feed an addiction, to satisfy their greed or anger, or to avenge some wrong they feel has been done to them. In every instance, they are simply out for number one and will step on anyone and anything in this pursuit. They take and take without any concern for those they hurt in the process.
Now, consider this on a larger scale. If everyone had this mentality and sought to benefit only themselves, this drive would eventually destroy our entire planet. We would consume all of our natural resources, kill each other on a whim, never have children because they would be viewed an ‘inconvenience,’ and cease to even recognize the social bonds that tie us together. Countries would dissolve, economies would collapse, governments would topple, and our world would delve into a downward spiral
towards complete and utter Chaos. In the prophecy of Ragnarök this is said to eventually happen, which shows how well our ancestors understood the laws of convergence versus entropy. The idea is simple: culture and society keep us together, greed and selfishness tear us apart. This is why Heimdall’s name means ‘Bright-Home’ or ‘Light of the Home,’ designating his role as God of the hearth- fire, of the family and folk who bound us together with blood and heritage; while Gullveig’s name means ‘Thirsty for Gold,’ denoting her spreading of avarice and selfishness among our people.
What does all of this mean to us? Well, in a sense, Gullveig acts as a moral teacher herself in that she shows us what not to do and what to stay away from.
Her vices delineate the consequences of violating Heimdall’s virtues, and thus give us examples that help us to lead honorable lives. It is within us to choose whom we will revere, whom we will pay tribute to as people of faith and morals.
We will either join with Heimdall in furthering the great cosmic order, in building our society and seeing to its continued success, or we will walk with Gullveig and seek only our own pleasure; sowing discord, fear, and hatred that divides rather than unites. We will either work for convergence or entropy, coalescence or division, every time we find ourselves with a choice to make.
Allow me to further put this into perspective. An economy, any economy, as vast and as complex as they may be, relies strongly on morality in order for it to exist and thrive. Every transaction, every loan, every contract that is made is built upon one simple concept: trust. We have to be able to trust one another to have the confidence to trade, buy, and sell. If businesses do not have this confidence, markets fall and economies crumble. I must know that when I loan you money or buy a product from you or sell you something on credit that I can trust you in our transaction. If I don’t have that trust, I will be wary of how I spend my money. Simple as that. Every facet of our society intrinsically requires a certain degree of morality, as well as consequences for violating it. I need my home secure, my finances stable, and my family confident in our future. For this to happen I need others to not try to harm us, the job market to stay strong, and oppressive forces to leave us alone. But this does not always happen—people commit crimes, markets fluctuate, and the powers that be overstep their boundaries all the time.
Because of this, it is vital to us as Odinists/Asatruar to progress our religion in a way that is beneficial to as many of our folk as possible, then to unite in helping others. We must act as a beacon of hope, a light in the darkness so that we are bringing people together rather than pulling them apart. We use this ‘glue’ that is culture and folk as part of our natural inheritance to maintain these bonds, but then join with other peoples to celebrate the diversity of our world while working in union with one another.
If we use hate, paranoia, isolationism, extremism, etc. to build walls rather than bridges we will see our faith die, which will be closely followed by our people. I will not tell others how to believe, but if you are engaging in any of these practices you can only blame yourself and those like you if we meet our demise.
These ideals (from both sides of the political spectrum) poison our cause, turn people away from us, and cause division rather than unity.
We must follow the light of Heimdall to inspire our folk, to strengthen them, to rise them above the guilt and self-loathing that has plagued us for far too long.
But if we combat this with the darkness of Gullveig and Loki, attacking those who disagree with us and focusing our efforts on pitiful scapegoating and shadow chasing, we will never get anywhere in our lives or as a movement. The choice is yours to make.
Many Eastern religions talk about inner-peace, and use meditation and other spiritual practices towards achieving this, which are a beautiful aspect of their ancient ways. However, because Odinism is also a very action-oriented religion, we recognize the successful life as an important part of this inner- peace: a strong family, financial security, and having lots of love in your life. Odin tells us to “learn to make yourself loved” (LIII.104) and defines the various meanings of success:￼
“No man lacks everything, Although his health is bad: One is happy in his sons, One in his kin,
One in abundant wealth, One in his good works.” —TAE LXXX.74
But none of these can be achieved without honor, integrity, and morality. One cannot be happy in his sons if he only cares for himself, one cannot enjoy his kin if all do not work together in strengthening their synergetic bond, one cannot have abundant wealth if they cannot be trusted, and one will not have good works if all they are seeking is their own pleasure.
These are not quaint philosophical ponderings, they are simple matters of fact.