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Keeping Our Words Sacred

By Heather O’Brien

In today’s world, words are easily exchanged. Promises are made off-handedly. Commitments are taken as light feathers or fleeting moments of interest, only to be discarded when they no longer serve their original purpose.

We live in a world where few are bound by their word, but this has not always been the case. In fact, historically the Norse people took the word of a person as being of utmost importance and if an oath had been made, it was expected that every measure would be taken to ensure its fulfillment. This was part of having honor. Men and women carried out their responsibilities with pride, for they knew the value of family, their gods, and the place that they held among those things.

Does that mean that every person in Norse culture always acted honestly and with integrity? Does it mean that a lie was never told, or an oath broken? No. While great emphasis was placed on honor and keeping an oath that had been made, there was never a guarantee that someone would value that as a part of their character – just like today! Asatruar and Odinist alike believe that those who have led a corrupt life or one that consists of broken oaths and harmful intentions go to Náströnd upon their death. Their sentence will be one that fits the actions they committed, just as those who have lived a just, brave, and honorable life will be given a place befitting theirs.

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