The following essay was originally published on AsatruBlog.com on March 28, 2013 and is republished here with the permission of the original author.
All wretched is no man, | though never so sick;
Some from their sons have joy,
Some win it from kinsmen, | and some from their wealth,
And some from worthy works.
In my conversations with folks who have recently come to Ásatrú, I have regularly seen an underlying issue that I don’t think most people are initially aware of; the sense of worthlessness that is imparted to us by the general culture we live in. In ancient times, being a person of worth meant being a person whose character and nature commanded respect. They were people who were held in esteem as men and women of merit. On this blog I have a page dedicated to the most important traits I believe make a person worthy. I have this page as both a statement of moral and ethical principle and as a way to address the subject of worth and provide some form of guidance to those who are looking for it. These traits aren’t the only ones that make a person worthy and people will disagree on things. This is as it as it should be. Worth is not a static thing and each person and group must decide for themselves what makes a person worthy to them. What I want to address here is the sense of worthlessness that so many people come to Ásatrú with.
For many Americans, and so many around the world, we come from a theological and social background that tells us that without the grace of a divine power, our lives are meaningless. We are told we are innately wicked, vile, and evil creatures that need to be redeemed through an act of divine incarnation and self-sacrifice. We are told that, no matter what we do or how well we live our lives, without this divine pardon we are not valuable. This kind of nonsense was completely foreign to our ancestors and it is not a belief of our folk today. We have always rejected this as self-destructive poison. In talking with other Heathen folk I have seen a common thread where it has consistently been a rejection of this kind of thinking that was part of what lead so many to come home to the Gods of the North. However, I still see so many, especially those who are newer to our troth, struggle with the psychological and emotional ramifications of this pervasive and destructive belief. We need to do better at addressing this so that we can heal those with whom we share our faith and help them stand with pride, dignity, and honor.
Instead of talking about worth, and being worthy folk, we often gloss over the subject by referring to things like the Nine Noble Virtues. We just don’t ever put them into context and I think that a lot of that has to do with folks not really having the context to put them in. The values I discuss on the Holy Worth page are also somewhat lacking of context with regards to worth, and this is something that I will have to address on my own site. For now, let us start by making a statement about our own worth. Please forgive me if this sounds a bit too “self help” but I think it is a necessary thing for many to do and an activity that many of us would benefit from repeating when the demands of the daily grind wear us down.
I can’t write a mantra of worth for anyone but myself but I can, hopefully, give some guidance on what to say. So, lets try to come up with a simple formula to start with that might be of use to those who need help getting started. First, start off with two values you have that you believe you live well. They can come from anywhere, but as always, Germanic values are best. Take those two values and come up with an example of how you manifest them in your life. Now we are going to turn these into declarative statements and show how we benefit our families and society and that we stand with pride and dignity before the Gods and our ancestors. This is now a simple affirmation you can use to remind yourself that you are not worthless. I believe that in doing this we can also find ways in which we can improve ourselves and make ourselves even worthier.
For those in need of an example to help them write their own statement, I offer you what I have written for myself: I am a man of worth. I am hard working and fair. I do that which is required of me to the best of my ability and give nothing less than the total effort needed to finish the job correctly. I am even-handed with those around me, treating others with equity and honesty and I am courteous to others. I benefit the lives of my kin and I am a boon to my community. I say these things rightly and stand before the Gods, the vættir, and my ancestors with pride and dignity. I am a man of worth.