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  #1  
Old 04-13-2010, 01:14 PM
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Smile Heathen view on the afterlife?

Simple question : What exactly do heathens believe about the after life?

Also I was wondering, are Ásatrú and Heathenry different names for the same thing? Do they have the same beliefs?

Thanks,
-Dot
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  #2  
Old 04-14-2010, 04:48 AM
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I can not speak for all, but I can speak for what a distillation of the Sagas and some of the other stories tell us. This will be as brief as I can make it and still be fairly thorough.

First the Valkyries take the worthy dead from the field battle and carry them across Bifrost to Asgard where they go to either the hall of Odin or Freya. (Though some seem to indicate that all dead go through the Helgate first.)
For those who do not die in battle Urd sends a servant to show them the westward path to the Helgate. The Gilling unlocks the Helgate and it opens (most say at twilight) when the dead of that day have gathered to let them continue the journey.
The path goes to a deep dark valley where there is a thorny heath with no path around or across. He we see that the care given the dead by the living has it's first impact. Those dead whom the living have given shoes will be wearing those shoes on this journey. If no one has appropriately cared for the corpse and no shoes were placed on it then those who have been merciful in life shall receive mercy and shoes will be provided them when they reach this heath. Those who were cruel will have to cross the thorny way unaided.
After that has been crossed there is a rushing river whose waters are filled with the blades of assassins and the treacherous. There is a narrow bridge however and for those who where honest and forthright in life it holds stead and true, for the deceitful and traitorous the bridge twists where their feet fall and they fall from the bridge and must wade the freezing waters being terribly mangled all the way across. Yet once they reach the shore no wounds (from the river or the thorny field) remain.
Once on that far shore light begins to shine upon meadows through which the path continues its way. The dead continue on.
When the dead arrive at the thingstead they sit on long rows of benches and are greeted by their fylgjas. Here the dead await the Gods as they come by the southern Helgate to judge the dead. They sit upon judgment seats before the rows of the dead. The fylgjas presence is enough to prove that no unforgivable sin had been committed by her ward. Those whom their fygjas have abandoned due to their horrendous deeds in life must sit in silence and watch the proceedings of the court unless they are fortunate enough to have been buried with speech runes which would allow them to speak in their own defense. The Gods judge leniently except in the case of treachery and villainy (nithing deeds) these are punished most severely. Al the dead are given a drink. The drink given to the worthy reinvigorates them. It sooths the mind of its past troubles and lets them forget pains and regrets and remember clearly joys and happiness. Those who are found unworthy are given another drink with strips away from them their humanity and they take on the appearance of the evil that was in their soul and deeds in life.
The blessed are then taken to a valley with green fields and spring flowers. There they meet their ancestors and friends and are given a beautiful home that their fygjas have prepared for them. Here they will joy themselves until it is time for them to be reborn.
Those who committed nithing deeds are taken away to their destiny. They are driven on their way north along a rocky trail that climbs Nifhels mountain walls. This gives them a view of the beautiful fields and valleys below. They are driven onward to the corpse-gate through which they are carried off toward their punishments.

That was about as short as I can make it and still get the high points across. I hope this helps.
For more in depth study of the subject I would like to recommend the following:
Our Fathers' Godsaga: Retold for the Young. by Viktor Rydberg
ROAD TO HEL: A Study of the Conception of the Dead in Old Norse Literature. by HILDA RODERICK ELLIS. M.A., Ph.D.
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2010, 07:34 PM
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That's pretty interested Wayfarer. I will have to read up some more on it.
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Old 12-15-2013, 02:36 AM
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The beliefs about the afterlife varied from tribe to tribe. Sometimes the tribe believed that you were "claimed" by a god to be taken to their hall, the greatest for the best sleign warriors in Valhalla. Sometimes the souls were to go into Helheim and spend eternity in a state of peaceful neutral bliss. There are also some references to reincarnation.

Most modern day heathens believe in reincarnation. Some adhere to the Helheim belief, others the "hall" belief. Some people are a combination of the three.

Ultimately it really doesn't matter. We know that the gods wouldn't be so cruel as to create a place of damnation to torment souls, so I know that in the next life it won't be filled with peril and anguish. What does matter is what's here and now and the present moment.
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