Sometime between 1020 and 1021 CE, the Christianization of Pagan Europe was well underway. King Olaf II was ensconced on the throne of Norway. Much of the country had been baptized under threat of torture and death. Such things, however, were not enough to deter the faithful, and eventually, word reached the ears of King Olaf II of gatherings in and around Trondheim of a very pagan nature.
Olvir of Egg, a leader and a Gothi of his people, was elected by his people to speak to the King on their behalf and to defend their religious activities. An intelligent man, Olvir was called before the King on two separate occasions to defend the stories of Pagan festivals and feasts. On both occasions, Olvir of Egg humbly described not Pagan gatherings, but communal gatherings, in which neighbors drank and feasted as friends.
Both times Olvir left behind an unconvinced King and when spies told him a third time of an Eostre festival being arranged for the people, Olaf decided that he had heard enough. Five ships and over three hundred men were gathered and set out to ambush Olvir and the men and women who worshipped with him. Arriving under the cover of darkness, Olaf’s men ambushed Olvir and his pagan community. Olvir was killed and many of his people were tortured, mutilated, or killed. Once a great stronghold of the Pagan faith, Trondheim had been taken.
And what can we learn from this story?
Many of these stories are not happy stories. On the surface, they are stories of death and defeat, but we have to look past the surface of all of these stories. Here, with Olvir, we see a man who loved his Gods and, despite all of the pressures of his ancient world, did his best to worship them. Not only did he do his best for himself, but he also did the best he could for his people. In the face of adversity, Olvir did his best to provide and protect his people from the angry, outside force that was the King.
Our world is not the same world that Olvir lived in. We have the right to choose our faith, but there will always be obstacles. In these times, when our native faith is still so small, and our heritage is being challenged by the multicultural whirlwind, remember Olvir. Provide a safe place for your folk to be away from the harm of the “societal norm”. Remember that sometimes smart words are required instead of rash ones.
Be there for your folk. Provide for your folk.
The Gods and the Ancestors are watching.