Well, i am not sure why it took so long for me to get to this post, i actually feel like i have talked about it before… oh well i’m pretty sure this is the first dedicated post on UPGs. UPGs are a very important part about heathenism whether you agree with them or not. What does UPG mean? Well i shall tell you what it stands for, then what it actually means, then its implications on Asatru and the wider world of paganism and Heathenry. UPG stands for unverified personal gnosis. This is perhaps one of the most controversial things in Heathenry. What this means, is an idea about something, in this case heathenry, cosmology, the holy powers, ancestors, rites or rituals etc that someone claims is true. Now how they know this is true is where it gets tricky. Most of what we know about heathenry is from the Eddas, Sagas, and the archaeological record. Those who claim their UPG’s are true are getting this knowledge from a dream, finding it in an altered state of mind, a private communication with one of the holy powers, be it a god or ancestor or vaettir. Now as you can probably tell, these things are very personal, we cannot prove or disprove if someone is in direct contact with a deity and if they were, what was said. Now, do not misunderstand me, this is not to say that UPG’s are wrong, many of them may be right, and just as many of them may be wrong. But they are so controversial because no other person can verify that idea of belief and because it does not come from a trusted source of information. But like i said, this does not mean it is wrong, that is what a great deal of faith and religion is about!
For example, i could very well say that Odin came to me in a dream saying that the nine worlds were really created by the flying spaghetti monster that rode a robot pony that ate bananas and nothing else. Now this is a pretty far out as UPGs go. But how can you know if i am wrong or lying? Being as heathen means many things, one of them is the possibility of the gods being beings that can come down to Midgard and speak with humans, so who is to say Odin did not come and tell me that? Another example would be to say that Odin’s right eye was missing, how do i know that? Well i saw him. Now this is much more believable and will draw much less attention and scrutiny because we know that Odin is missing an eye, but it never says which so why not? So as you can see UPGs can range from something that no one will believe except the person claiming it is true, to ideas that most people can see and believe in.
Now here is where UPGs can get “dangerous”, when you try to make everyone believe in your UPG, however wild or not wild it is, and support it with nothing other than the fact that it is a UPG. I am sure we all have at least one, and they are very, very personal. Not in the way that we do not want to share them with others, but the fact that they will never be as true to someone else as they are to us. When we claim something is true, but cannot support it at all then others in the community will sadly just get angry. And why shouldn’t they? If you come with the idea about the spaghetti monster i talked about above, you better damn well have some proof if you do not want people thinking your on acid or something. The more practical, the more accepted. Even if your idea is very simple and very likely, you still should not try to convince others. You can of course share it, and talk about it with others, get their opinions and ideas, but do not, ever, try to make your UPG a general fact if there is no evidence for it besides your UPG. It can cause alot of problems for yourself, and the community or group you are in.
I at least shall never try to make you not believe in your UPG, i have a few of my own that, while not that far out there, would not want others to start a fight over. As i have said, and i cannot state this enough, UPGs are personal, they may be as real to you as the fact that the all-father’s name is Odin (or any of his other names for that matter), no one can make you not believe in it, unless you were lying from the start, which you should not do! But we cannot prove your UPG, we cannot verify your personal gnosis, so some are bound to get angry when you claim them as fact, but then neither can we disprove it so you just need to be careful!
Having UPGs can be great! They can make your religious experience much richer and fuller, and that is wonderful! But just be careful in the way that you talk about it with other people. =)
Well i hope i answered some questions about what UPGs are and why they are so controversial Please rate this post and comment on how you liked it, and if you have any more questions please feel free to email me @firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me some other way! The same goes for if you think i missed something that you think should have been talked about!
Thank you for reading, and may the holy powers of these ancient worlds watch over you and protect you! Hail!