Over the years that I have been an active member of the heathen/Asatru community, I have often been questioned concerning my focus on the afterlife, on Valhalla. Many modern heathens seem to regard the idea of Valhalla or any other aspect of the afterlife to be superfluous, not relevant to life as a modern heathen.
This attitude has always puzzled me. If you have an actual belief in the literal reality of the gods and the afterlife, then having some thought for the afterlife does indeed matter. If you do not have an actual belief in the gods, or if your belief does not include the concept of an afterlife, both perfectly valid heathen paths, then having some thought for the afterlife still matters.
I do not actually have any solid belief in an afterlife one way or another. Having no direct evidence for or against the idea, my own philosophy holds that forming an actual opinion on the subject is unwarranted and intellectually dishonest. I do not focus on Valhalla because I have some real hope of one day going there. I focus on conducting myself in a manner worthy of someone who hopes to be chosen to go there because it makes me a better person in this world. I focus on Valhalla because I believe in the ideals of Valhalla, of Odin.
The einherjar, the chosen slain, seek perpetually to develop themselves. They train each day to better their arts and abilities. This drive, this desire to change for the better, is an invaluable tool in any and all endeavors I will ever pursue. The einherjar do not shy away from fear or from pain. The ability to face my fears and endure even great pain gives me great courage and confidence that will grant me victory in all of my endeavors. The einherjar know how to party, how to play. The ability to relax, let go of my inhibitions, and truly enjoy myself give me the ability to endure great hardship. They allow me to focus and work hard when I am at work. They give me a sense of humor, and the perspective to see that most things that seem like problems don’t really matter, and this makes me a better person.
It doesn’t really matter to me whether I go to Valhalla someday or not. But that won’t stop me from trying like hel to get there. When I accepted Odin’s path, I accepted it all, instead of picking and choosing the parts I liked. That includes the goal. It’s made all the difference in the world to me.