[Medievalist and all-around super awesome person Sarduriur Freydis Sverresdatter had something to say about diehard recons relying on Snorri in order to reconstruct Heathenry. I liked it so much I had to ask permission to post it. Please direct all appreciative muffin baskets her way.]
The sad thing is, Snorri (a 13th century Christian lawyer), is not the ONLY person who ever wrote about Scandinavian religion (and he was only writing about Icelandic religion for the most part) . . . and most (especially strict) recons fail to realize it. They latch onto the Eddas like Gospel and thump, thump, thump. Even though at that point Snorri was Captain of the U.S.S. Make-Shit-Up of Christianized misinterpretations and glazings-over of Heathen religion. Dude was well over a century removed from living pre-Christian religion, whereas chroniclers like Ahmad ibn Fadlan were EFFING THERE, around Polytheist Scandinavians during the 10th century. Why would ANYONE rely on Snorri and his High Medieval Christian contemporaries for accuracy of any sort at all? Especially when he omitted so much of what didn’t agree with his or his audience’s Christian sensibilities, and wasn’t there to witness Polytheist Scandinavians actually practicing Polytheist Scandinavian religion(s)?
What (specifically diehard) recons end up with, then, is revenant Christo-Heathenism. It’s a half-assed, half-dead religion, not a living one — particularly dead when it’s popularly maintained that the Gods can’t be bothered with you, because you’re no Sigfried, and only the really cool shit happened in the Early Middle Ages, so tough titties for you, might as well not have any Gods, but it wouldn’t be as cool without Them, so we’ll keep Them anyway. Coupled with a very self-entitled, arrogant “I don’t need to kneel or do anything I don’t want to before the Gods, I’m entirely equal to Them and They’re glorified wish-givers” attitude, you have a reeeaaal recipe for disaster/setup for imminent failure.
^^^ And this is coming from a Medievalist, of all people. When Medievalists start saying “dude, stop messing with dusty old tomes and dead bones, live your life,” you know you have problems. Historical validation is all well and good, and “Teh Lore” (TM) [not including Snorri] can provide a very loose framework for belief (i.e., this is where some of our basic beliefs came from, this is how things were formerly done as far as we know, etc.). But you’re not going to have a sustainable, living, genuinely Heathen religion that long outlives you if you rely on blatantly, severely biased High Medieval Christian authorship for all or even most of your objective non-Christian religious knowledge and practice. We have to reestablish contact with the Gods. We need to make our own mark with our own ways and our own words, not some Medieval Christian who thought that “Pagan” Scandinavians were superstitious backwater hicks who didn’t deal with the death of their beloved heroes very well.
That scares people. A lot. Suddenly the belief system they’ve latched onto makes virtually no sense anymore, and they have to find new ways to rationalize it. Which requires a whoooole lot of work few people ultimately want to do. It’s far easier to turn off the “critical thinking” switch and fall back on the “dogma” reserve generator. It’s far easier to say/believe “if it’s Ancient or Medieval, it’s categorically more true than Modern stuff” than actually figure things out for yourself and know how and where to identify and remove the Monotheist additions/worldview and how and where to bridge gaps — what to keep and what to get rid of. “Unlearning” bad information is very difficult and tedious, but entirely necessary.
In the sense of “relying upon ‘Teh Lore’ (TM) beyond a very basic framework or foundation, clinging to it and refusing to both drop the Modern Western Christian worldview most of us grew up with and refusing to allow the religion to grow, change, and progress,” yeah, I’d say “recon” is a dirty word.