To quite a large degree 20th and 21st century Germanic heathens have been conditioned by the pre-war writings of the founder of Analytical Psychology, Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961), most especially his now famous essay Wotan (1936). Most heathens will be familiar with this essay as it puts forward the concept of Wotan as an archetype. However very few will have read his later essays on this subject such as After the Catastrophe (1945) which should be read in order to gain a balanced view on the subject. Also helpful is the correspondence between Miguel Serrano and Jung which is published in C.G. Jung and Hermann Hesse: A Record of Two Friendships (1965) which I highly recommend. Whilst Jung's work is useful to us we must admit its limitations as Jung, as folkish as he was was primarily a scientist and only secondarily a mystic and this must be borne in mind when studying his work. One can see Jung's legacy in the work of many of the more respected and well known writers such as Stephen Edred Flowers (Edred Thorsson) although Dr Flowers to give him his credit does not limit himself to viewing the Gods solely as archetypes but concedes that they are very real spiritual entities who exist in their own right.
Thorsson in his remarkable A Book of Troth concedes "What can be said is that the gods and goddesses are REAL, there are many of them, they are ordered in a sort of divine society as we are for our being." He then helpfully goes on to clarify how heathens see the Gods in different ways. "Some understand the gods as pure mental or psychological constructs, some as true living beings, and others as forces of nature." I personally can see all three applications as being relevant to the Gods, that they can be seen as psychological constructs (archetypes), as living beings and the embodiment of the forces of nature. However there are many today who will only concede that they are archetypes, that they have no separate existence outside of our conscious or unconscious minds and I feel that this is an error, a very basic error that many subscribe to today.
Our ancestors did not cogitate over these issues as perhaps the ancient Greeks did for they simply accepted the existence of the Gods and knew that they had a very real existence and a very real power. Modern man in his intellectual conceit-and this also applies to some modern heathens do not credit the Gods with an existence outside of themselves. In other words they do not really believe that they exist apart from being human thought patterns or purely psychic entities that dwell deep in the Blood Memory. Again this is not how our ancestors would have viewed the Gods and if we are truly concerned with reviving our ancient Germanic religion then we MUST consider how our ancestors are likely to have considered them. Whilst Jung's work is important and is certainly helpful in terms of how we view German 20th century National Socialism and the concept of Hitler as an avatar we cannot and must not use his work as a filter for how we view our Gods for Jung is a product of the 19th and 20th centuries, the still largely Christian and increasingly scientific era. Instead we must go straight to the source and there is no better source than Tacitus' Germania for this work unlike the Eddas has not been contaminated by Christian scribes.
In an earlier article Reverence for the Gods I explained in detail how our ancestors deeply revered the Gods:
"Another observance shows their reverence for this grove. No one may enter it unless he is bound with a cord, by which he acknowledges his own inferiority and the power of the deity. Should he chance to fall, he may not raise himself or get up again, but must roll out over the ground. The grove is the centre of their whole religion. It is regarded as the cradle of the race and the dwelling-place of the supreme god to whom all things are subject and obedient." (Germania 39, Mattingley translation)
There is no talk in Germania of our ancestors considering themselves as the 'equal' of the Gods which many in Odinism and the wider Germanic heathen community tend to believe. There is no evidence at all in any of our sources that can support such a view and indeed the whole concept of 'equality' has more to do with the French Revolution than it has with ancient heathenism. Our ancestors simply did not think this way and we must be wary of imposing 20th and 21sth century modes of thought on people who lived 2,000 years ago! By the same token neither am I arguing that heathens are slaves of the Gods. We should instead recognise our kinship with them but at the same time acknowledge that they are in every way superior to us. That however should not stop us in trying to emulate the Gods, to be like them for this is a noble endeavour.
Our ancient ancestors revered the Gods for they viewed them as separate external and self sufficient entities. Whilst the Gods do operate in Midgarth, the world of men we need the Gods far more than they need us for they existed long before we did and they are not reliant upon us for their continued existence for they unlike us are not tied to this world or this dimension of being. Indeed I believe that the Gods can and do manifest themselves occasionally as physical entities, not just appearing in dreams or visions. The Volsunga Saga which is one of our most important sources gives many examples for instance of Odin appearing in physical human form to interact with the clan that He Himself sired, the Volsungas. In the Rígsþula of the Poetic or Elder Edda we have the God Rig (who I believe to be Odin, not Heimdall) appear in physical human form to sire the three castes of later Germanic society. In both of these examples a God appeared as a separate entity, not as a thought pattern or archetype. This is how pre-modern Germanic man viewed the Gods and it is this mentality that we must seek to return to, our original simplistic faith in the Gods of our blood. In forthcoming articles I intend to discuss how we can draw closer to the Gods and deepen our faith in them.