From The Odisbook by Mark Puryear
The fundamental basis for Odinist religious philosophy is the idea that there is something greater than the Self.
Indeed, within the scope of our investigation we discover that there are many 'somethings' and how we connect to them is a matter of personal and cultural experience.
The family, nature, our planet, the universe, the Spiritual Collective, etc. are all greater than we are as individuals and thus we recognize them as part of a higher, divine order which encompasses the many deities of our pantheon as well.
Our entire social structure rests upon the idea that we are a part of something that means more to us than our individual wants and needs. This has moral and intellectual implications that must be recognized. The recognition of this order draws us towards others, towards family, and towards our fellow man. The rejection of it leads to a worship of the Self, of the individual above the collective and thus results in the decline of civilization. This is convergence versus entropy.
If we recognize divinity as a part of the Spiritual Collective, rather than its whole, then we can grasp an understanding of the Gods as natural beings living within our reality and thus being subject to its laws.
We turn away from the idea that the divine must be shadowed in mystery and confusion in order for it to be truly powerful, and thus understand that a deity must be made of something, must have some form, and must have some sort of personality in order for him/her to be distinct. If a deity can be made of something, then its elements must be natural, just as the tiny particles and atoms that make up the rest of the universe are the building blocks of all life.
If a deity cannot be made of something then it is made of nothing and is nothing, which is a concrete law of nature. A whole must be the sum of its parts, and so must it be with Gods as with humans, planets, stars, etc. If all of these tiny particles are the building blocks of all that exist, then Gods must have them as well, if they are to exist. If they are ethereal (energetic) or material, this same law applies. This connects them to us for we live by the same mandates, and thus the Spiritual Collective or Web of Wyrd connects all things. The Gods then become the highest manifestation of the collective as they are the leap from primal existence to divine order, i.e. from simple elemental compounds to higher life. From this divine intelligence comes the ordered universe and, most especially for us, the world in which we live.
In the polytheist view, in contrast to the monotheist, there is an acceptance of subjective reality, otherwise known as relativism. We fully accept that there are facts that cannot be refuted (such as gravity, natural cycles, or thermodynamics), but we deny that there is any such thing as an 'absolute' in what would normally be subjective.
There is no absolute 'Truth' (though there are truths that are absolute), no absolute 'Beauty,' and no absolute 'Goodness.' Why is this so? Because we always retain the right to disagree with our Gods, even to defy them if we must. When we do so our love for them becomes pure and uplifting because it is based upon choice and rationale rather than fear and subjugation. If a God tells me something is beautiful, or true, or good, and I do not agree, I retain the right to tell him/her so, and thus his/her opinion becomes relative. I would make the same argument to the Christian god, but then he would probably cast me into his fiery pits for not being a meek little sheep before him.
That is, if he were real at all.
However, this is not an argument for moral relativism, for it is based, within the Odinic model at least, on the principle of Chaos vs. Order or Entropy vs. Convergence. If I perform actions that bring harm to others, then I am acting only in accordance with my own self interests.
But even then this can have stipulations, such as killing someone to protect yourself or another, stealing to feed your family, lying to keep the truth from causing harm, and so on. The law may be black and white, but life is rarely so and our Gods and Goddesses understand this perfectly. This is why there is some lenience in the judgments of the Helthing.
Gods must be enlightening and inspiring if they are to have any use to us at all. If they do not help us or inspire us then they are basically just ideas in a story book, or just entities out there in the universe with no real connection to us at all. But our enlightenment comes from their stories and from the gifts we believe that they give to us. We pray to them and offer to them as a source of personal empowerment—to either bring us luck in our endeavors or strength in our failures. We look to them for guidance, use their lore to lead us towards healthy, successful lives, and gain courage from them to deal with life's many ups and downs. All of this is positive, and all of it is uplifting. Our Gods may not be perfectly 'good,' but they are real and they are family and they watch over us as such. They do not 'create evil' (Isaiah 45:7), they fight it. They do not harm us when they get angry, they protect us from the forces of chaos and hate, and will only remove that protection when we ourselves embrace these forces.
This is the nature of benevolent divinity, and it is about time that we turn away from the tyrannical, schizophrenic desert demons and return to the true faith of our ancestors.