One of the most recognizable motifs in Asatru is that of the Viking warrior. Helm, sword, beard, and blood: boys and girls have long been mesmerized by the stories of Valkyries and the eternal feasting and fighting of the Einherjar in Odin’s hall, Valhalla. Pop culture has taken the Berserker and the Valkyrie and remade them hundreds of times.
Our ancestors lived in a different time, when fighting wars and general “viking” was necessary for survival. For a warrior, to die in battle was the greatest honor. Today, war is not necessary in the same way. Most people scoff at war, urge their children to “do better” or “be better”. For those of us who practice Asatru, however, we recognize the importance and the value of the warrior. More important still, is the importance and the value of those who have fallen, the Einherjar.
Once a year we set aside a day specifically to honor the Einherjar. We raise a horn to the fallen warriors to thank them for fighting for our people and our freedom. One way to celebrate is to set a place at the table for the Einherjar. Serve them the same food you are eating for dinner. Pour them a glass of wine or beer. When you are done, leave the plate outside under a special tree in offering. Another way to celebrate would be to visit the graves of veterans at a local cemetery and help to clean them up. Leave some decorations or a small flag.
You don’t have to have any veterans in your immediate family. It is a guarantee that somewhere down your ancestral lines you have family who fought in war, and most as likely, that some of them didn’t return from the front lines. It is in your blood. So raise that horn, and raise it high. Remember our fallen.
Hail the Einherjar!