In this episode, I speak with creator of the Nordic Animist Calendar and Historian of Religion Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen. Rune has spent much of his academic career studying and highlighting various animist spiritual traditions and perspectives, with a special focus on Afro-Atlantic and Nordic traditions — the latter being the focus of this discussion.
In his work, Rune has attempted to integrate the animist worldview into his academic research into religious and spiritual traditions, highlighting the very pragmatic and grounded function the animist perspective has served in human cultures and societies throughout human history. As Rune explains, the animist worldview integrates human community with the grander cycles of the cosmos and seasons of the Earth through ritual and story, serving as a sort of technology that integrates human life with the broader communities of life on the planet through spiritual practice. Of particular concern to Rune is how the animist worldview and mythologies can inform our understanding of the contemporary environmental and climate crises unfolding on the planet right now. In this discussion, Rune uses the myth of Ragnarok — a sort of end-of-days apocalyptic vision involving environmental cataclysm and war famously depicted in the Old Norse poem Völuspá — as a means of comprehending and reframing the unfolding ecological, cultural, spiritual crises in our troubled times. (http://bit.ly/2mfFEaM) How can myth, and in particular the animist worldview, help us to not only reframe these current crises, but provide the tools required to build connection and deeper relationship to the land, community, and the living systems of the planet? This is just some of what we explore in this discussion.
Rune Hjarnø Rasmussen is a Danish historian of religion educated from the Universities of Copenhagen and Uppsala, with his research mainly focused on Afro-Atlantic polytheisms such as the Afro-Brazilian Orisha religion. Rune has engaged in a diverse set of fieldwork with a number of contemporary (primarily Afro-descendant) religions, with Nordic religion as a strong field of interest as well. Today Rune applies contemporary developments in anthropology to rethink the way we address Nordic religion both in terms of scholarship, but also as a reservoir of cultural knowledge for environmental activism and sustainability sensitization.
- Read ‘RAGNAROK IS COMING! Nordic Scholars: Ancient Viking prophecy speaks to our time’ published originally in the Danish newspaper Politiken: http://bit.ly/2mfFEaM
- Watch Rune’s video “Mermaid mythology is not White!”: http://bit.ly/2mlXBop
- Subscribe to Rune’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Runehr
- The artwork featured in the title card is by Louis Moe: http://bit.ly/2lYW8nt
- The song featured in this episode is “Voluspá (Skaldic Version)” by Wardruna: https://youtu.be/8UPUPDo20nM