King Radbod was the ruler of Frisia. That area along the Southeastern coast of the North Sea in what we refer to today as the Netherlands. This month we will spend a day honoring him and what he stands for. When we take the time to remember this King, take pause for just a second longer and consider the parallels in our time. Radbod was in constant conflict with the Merovingian Kings. That line of Frankish kings who fell in line with the directives of the Pope. A constant state of being derided and harassed because they were still a Pagan kingdom. When the whims of the Pope and the church changed directions to the Carolingian Kings, Frisia and its ports became an important and hotly contested resource between two kingdoms who simply assumed that Radbod would fall in line. Political intrigue, royal weddings, assassinations and many battles plagued the kingdom. All in the name of the church and the power in represented. The days when a man might make the way for his life by the strength of his own two hands, perhaps even to become a king, were rapidly vanishing.
His enemies, the Franks, were legendary warriors such as Charles Martel. But there were ordinary men as well, with weak spirits,they became priests and began to assume a greater role in the politics of the day as Bishops and Cardinals. Lesser men whose faith was in something outside of themselves. King Radbod, though he was greatly feared (even the rumor of Radbod forming an army caused the French to tremble) he was also wise enough to take into consideration the welfare of his people. Constant warfare and persecution began to wear the old king done. And soon he found himself standing at the edge of the baptismal pool. But unlike the kings around him, King Radbod enjoyed the thought of his ancestors standing in a long line behind him. They had been the ones who had supported him from the beginning. It was the very thought of them and living up to their deeds that propelled Radbod forward through the toughest of times. In the moment when Radbod had but one foot in the pool, he paused and looked at the priest, gayly adorned and doing his best to remind everyone around them that he was, in fact, greater than this king, because he was a man of the foreign god. In that moment, the whisper of a thought crossed Radbods mind. Perhaps it was no more than “we love you” or maybe it was “remember us”, maybe it was the look of disappointment in the eyes of the crowd. Disappointment at seeing someone they had fought so hard for, believed so fervently in, now stripped down to night clothes and preparing to engage in a foreign ritual so he might stay in power.
That split second was all that was required for one, very powerful question to arise in the mind of the Frisian King. He asked Wulfram, the priest and missionary to the Frisians “Will I see my ancestors in your Christian Heaven?” “No” replied Wulfram, “Those contemptible pagan ancestors do not reside in the glory of heaven”. At which point Redbod began to remember who he was. He stood up and removed himself from the baptismal pool. His fortitude arose from with in and he replied “I would rather spend an eternity in hell with my ancestors, than to spend it in heaven with my enemies, the Franks”.
In days gone by, many older heathens and Asatruars will tell you that their path was looked upon with disdain. It was discouraged, and people reminded us routinely that we would find ourselves in Hell. We are surrounded by easier softer paths lined with the comforts we take for granted. What would our decision be if those comforts were threatened because of our faith? King Radbod died in 719. His sons continued to fight the Franks. Radbod the Successor fought valiantly. Their struggle was I am sure a powerful one. Full of champions and heroes. Just like today, our wars at home and abroad have produced within our ranks many champions and heroes. Men and women more than willing to take up the challenge of life on these new terms we call Asatru. But it was the sentiment of a Pagan King, 1300 years ago, which has provided us with a thought process which reminds us that we needn’t fear all the forces the world has to throw at us. That we need not compromise with anyone concerning our right to raise a horn, worship our old gods and celebrate our ancestors. For no matter what may happen, they will be with us.

Gothi Bryan Wilton

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