Once, when I mentioned I was Vanatru, someone (I believed they identified as atheist) wondered how anyone could find my faith appealing because my deities “sleep around with their siblings”. I kind of put that comment on the shelf until I encountered Heathens who were saying similar things. Some (one in particular, though I won’t mention who) even attempt to assert that Freyja and Freyr were not brother and sister in terms of blood relationship, but that “brother” and “sister” were cult titles.
This is something that baffles me, because it’s not like ours is the only pantheon where deities marry their siblings, the Greeks and the Egyptians are somewhat notorious for this, but it’s even found in modern religions like Wicca, where the God impregnates the Goddess who gives birth to the God and….wait a minute, is the Goddess having sex with her own son!?
While I’m at it, here are some other things you should look out for in the lore:
- bestiality/genderchange/m-preg (in the same story, no less!)
- adultery (implied or actual)
- divorce/separation (yes, there are Heathens who forget that even deities get divorced)
- kinky stuff that’s so kinky most kinksters won’t talk about it (or see: what Njord does with Hymir’s daughters)
- homosexuality (very much implied, if you know what to look for)
I’m probably missing a few things, so this is just a sample of the kinds of things that deities get up to when they don’t have to pay attention to prudish humans.
Here’s the kicker, though:
Deities are not “role models” in the sense that in order to honour them, you must imitate their lives to the letter. Deities, not having human genetics, don’t need to worry about their offspring having double the risk of passing on any genetic conditions, nor do they have to worry about their children literally going insane from all that inbreeding. In short, incest (at least, of the procreative kind) is not something that particularly benefits humans. Even so, I’m willing to be most of us aren’t particularly attracted to our close relatives.
The same goes for the other items on that list. I don’t know of anyone who says “to follow Freyja, you must have lots of sex” (if that’s true, I’m screwed, or not-screwed, actually) or that you need to cross-dress or be kinky (although all these things can be part of a healthy relationship between consenting adults) for any deity to like you. I’m pretty sure followers of Hellenismos don’t go around raping people and cheating on their spouses and Kemetics aren’t all inbred from their enthusiastic worship of brother-sister pairs of deities. How are we any different?