Jarl Haakon, or Haakon Sigurdsson, son of the Norwegian earl of Lade, was exiled to Denmark after the murder of his father by Harald II Graycloak. He soon allied with Harald Bluetooth and they overthrew his father’s murderer. While Haakon became the sovereign in the west, Harald Bluetooth annexed southeastern Norway. The two would again join forces when Bluetooth needed aid in fighting against the Holy Roman Emperor Otto II in 974.
Though forced into baptism Haakon’s faith in his gods was so strong that he was not only able to revolt against Bluetooths efforts to Christianize Norway for a time, but also to spread and expand his faith in his lands. In the end, powers that he could not control began to sway the attitudes of his men and he was killed by one of his own retainers.
Jarl Haakon was the last Asatru Ruler of Norway, his death in 995 CE leading directly to the take over by Olaf Tryggvason.
So what can we learn from this story?
There will always be people in our lives who do not understand our faith or our dedication to our faith. Even our friends might choose to try and change our minds. When the people we have trusted do this we can sometimes find ourselves doubting our choices, even if for just a moment. ‘What if?’ Take that breath and reaffirm your faith. It isn’t always going to be easy, but nothing that is worth anything ever is.
With dedication can come reward. We might not be able to make everyone understand our values and our beliefs, but for every person who turns away, there is a person somewhere who’s mind can be opened by our words. There is that person whose soul longs to ‘come home’. They just don’t know it yet. Perhaps your words, your dedication, your belief will be the thing that helps someone else find their way, and what better reward could there be for standing strong?
We must also take a moment to remember to curb our arrogance. When we become too sure of ourselves and our ability to stand tall against everything that would fight us we can become blinded by the reality of the situation around us. Always remember to take time to take the measure of the situation. Take the time to know if it is a good time to talk or to hold your tongue.
Wise in measure let each man be, but let him not wax too wise;
for never the happiest of men is he who knows much of many things