Skáldskapr: Why forn-sidr?

Who am I?

My name Dr. Mark Weisman, and as the introduction states, I can trace my lineage back at least 18 generations (researched so far) in Northern Denmark. My great-grandmother, born in Bjerby Sogn, Denmark, immigrated to the United States in 1898 with my great grandfather. Me personally, I have studies and received a doctors degree for religious studies, as well as degrees in computer science, and psychology. I have served for over 25+ years in the security industry, and 20+ years in Information Technology, and a formerly active duty Marine. Throughout all the studies I have completed both formerly and not, I now understand I was trying to find my way back home. Home, as in my family heritage, and home in my religious beliefs.

Where I come from?

Born of humble origins in the eastern part of the United States, I was raised in many places throughout. From a very early age I knew something was missing in my life. Although I thoroughly researched religion, I was unable to connect with any of the mainstream, practiced religions. My heart led me on to even more studies in an attempt to find the missing pieces. It ached your find answers to the questions it had, but It wasn’t until my life was infused with a need to understand my personal ancestry, that I began to understand the journey I had made. 

My own search for heritage.

Throughout my lifetime I have exhaustively searched for a family heritage, as well as my spiritual home. It wasn’t until I began to do some in-depth genealogy that my mind, my heart, and my soul, began to realize what I’ve searched for my whole life. I’ve searched for any connection to a birthright heritage. I grew up with my mom, dad, and a younger brother. We traveled throughout the country, starting on the northern, east coast, through the Deep South, arriving in the Southwest. Although rarely we met some of my mom’s siblings, my fathers family remained elusive, even after his death after I left the Marine Corps. Within the last year, I began to perform some amateur genealogy, for a doctorate thesis I’m preparing, and discovered what I have been searching for my whole life without knowing what it was. My heritage. My ancestors. My ancestors that led me into northern Denmark for a little over five hundred years.

What I believe.

I believe that many modern people, even to the point of the Christian authors who attempted to re-write many of the Norse beliefs fail to understand about being of Germanic Dane descent is that the idea of “religion” is as foreign to those early Danes as neurosurgery is to most of us. The beliefs I have is that the many individuals described in the sagas and legends (eventually becoming Gods by the Christian authors), were not Gods to the norse, they were their own flesh and blood, their ancestry, humans who possessed ideal traits that we all wanted to imitate. The beliefs that have been revealed to me are that Odin walked upon Midgard just like you and I. He lived an honorable life, he led and fought with honor, he sought wisdom as many others have. I believe the controversial issue arises when others attempt to classify “our” beliefs as a religion or ideology. It wasn’t. It was never intended to be. The closest representation that comes to mind is that of a “role model”, or someone we all aspire to be like. My ancestor Odin was never considered a God, he was a man.

This means that my ancestors, similar to myself, believed in themselves. While we strive to be “like” those individuals within the stories, they are simply what we aspired to be like, not something to be worshipped. Therein lies the difference between my ancestry and those of the Christian faith. I know that my tapestry will be read at the end of my physical existence, and I will be selected to live among my ancestors. In many cases, because the authors were attempting to sway the population of the time toward Christianity, one must read the sagas with this in mind, as the peoples of early Scandinavia did not write extensively about their legends, it remained in oral traditions until well after the “viking age” of the 700s.

I believe that most, if not all of these legends stem from the Germanic past that many of the early Scandinavian settlers were. When we ponder the arrival of many of these concepts, we turn south from my ancestral home in Denmark to the south. To Germany. As the tribes of Germany continued to follow the receding ice sheets and the herds of animals heading north. In much the same way, these Germanic tribesmen followed the herds, bringing with them their beliefs and understanding of the natural world around them. They practiced these beliefs for centuries before arriving in Denmark, then Norway and Sweden. In many cases it was the Germanic tribes that created the legends and stories that would be passed down through the generations, ultimately being pressed into written pages at about the year 1000 of the common era. These writings however, were the works of Christian writers, who in some cases attempted to show these pages beliefs in a negative way, as they swayed the population of the time to adopt their idea of faith.

My dismay, is that because the wrong people (kings, jarls, etc) were swayed, monotheism was able to quash out rebellion and distain for this new faith. The underlying program taking place was the ability for the church to now dictate right or wrong, good or evil. They surrender their powers to this deity in-lieu of taking responsibility for themselves, and by doing so, left themselves defenseless against the coyotes of this new faith.

Why am I choosing to follow these paganistic beliefs?

Starting in my youth, I began to listen, and learn the multiple “new age” beliefs of my mother, who, at the time was studying a cosmic type of belief. Like many youth, and young men, the ideas of glory in battle, and the overall “bad assed” reputation that the Dane Vikings summoned in the imagination was hard to overlook. Like many, I too subscribed to the desire to be Norse. Something felt right, but many other forces within my earlier life directed me elsewhere. Life took over, and much like my ancestors, I focused on me. I was the master of my ship, I made my own way, successes and failures. Finally, I enrolled in college where I took courses in religion at Wayland Baptist University where I was lucky enough to enroll in a theology course with a master professor. It was this course that would ultimately send me on a journey of spiritual discovery that would lead me full circle. With in-depth studies in all the monotheistic, as well as polytheistic beliefs, in addition to the origins of cognitive thought in anatomical modern humans who migrated out of Africa. All of these studies intertwined with my intrinsic emotional landscape which set a path of discovery that would question every belief in a deity I had.

This journey accelerated to “light speed”  upon the recent completion of a DNA ancestral test that concluded what my heart already knew, I was a German-Dane. As I investigated my ancestry further, I discovered that not only was my family from Denmark, but we have been there for 500 years (as of this writing). It’s a culture that brought a huge missing piece to my life, and my understandings of spirituality. It was never about some mystical deity, it was about doing what it took to conquer the challenges of my life. I have always told my children that “the (whatever) fairy would never show up”, and that they needed to put in the hard work necessary. Without the prior knowledge of the culture I was surprised as many of these previous pieces of knowledge connected to the beliefs.

Some day in the future, I know that I will go before Scald, where she will read the tapestry of my life, where they will note that I should spend eternity with Týr at his hall in Valaskjálf.

Danish Vikings

The Danish Vikings, also known as Danes, were the most politically organized of the different types of Vikings.

This is why Danish kings played a greater role in Viking invasions long before Norwegian/Swedish Vikings.

The Danes were the strongest of the Norsemen both in political and military power.

They were also the first of the three to convert to Christianity (almost entirely by the end of 9th century).

The Danish Vikings wanted to discover and pillage the West.

Their focus was put on FranceEngland, and the Mediterranean parts of the world.

The Danes were the original “Vikings”.

The bulk of the raids came from Denmark, Southern Norway and Sweden (the areas around the Kattegat and Skagerakk sea areas).

A proud group of men and women, to which I owe my heritage to, and belief in.

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