Wednesday 19 March 2014

Havamal Snippets 132: Be hospitable to guests

Like many pagan/polytheist cultures around the world, the Viking culture stresses the importance of being hospitable to guests.  It's a point that is made in stanzas 103, 132, and 135.  Be hospitable to guests, treat them well.  It's part of being human, that hosts should be genial to guests, and guest should reciprocate.  The Christian tradition of marching into someone else's homeland and telling them that their way of life is wrong is a recent addition to world culture, and as such an anomaly.  Christians calling this 'spreading the word' and 'preaching the gospel', but as Mike points out, this is a total misnomer:
[Missionaries] have walked into other peoples lands telling them their whole belief system is wrong, their gods are wrong, and their way of life is wrong. They’ve gone into other peoples lands and disrupted the political and social systems time and time again for centuries. Many of the worlds political and social problems can be traced to the Christian conversion and the disruption it caused. In some sense, they set the whole world into an unrest. 
I saw a man say something that has always stood out in my mind since then. This took place in the late 80′s sometime. I was studying anthropology at the time. I saw this documentary about this Christian religious group that went out into the world to try to ‘teach the world the truth’. They went to this small tribe. I think it was in the orient somewhere. These missionaries saw how people would offer prayers to their gods and one of them said something like: ”We need to change that. We need to teach them that Christ will answer their prayers, not these idols”. Their guide, who was part of the tribe, turned to them and said: “What for? Why do they need to be changed? What’s wrong with their gods? They’ve been worshipping them for centuries”. I will never forget that. Later, they’d look at other tribes and find nothing but fault with their religion.
The idea that Christians are civil genial and decent folk is a lie that Christians believe in, and convince other people to believe.  Being civil and hospitable to all people, friends and guests, is something that polytheists, pantheists and other belief systems, practise and have practised for countless millenia.

Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
at háði né hlátri
hafðu aldregi
gest né ganganda
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
never mock or laugh
at a guest or traveller.


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