Originally published on Dreamwidth NOV. 16TH, 2005 01:49 PM.

Among the Norse, when a mankilling (fair fight or accidental) happened (as opposed to a murder by stealth), there were two options: the victim’s family could declare blood-feud on the killer and his family; or the Althing could set weregild, literally “man-gold,” a partial reparation paid to the family by the killer that superceded and replaced the blood-feud.

Interestingly enough, no one has ever suggested that Odin caused Olaf to kill Leif so that Sigrid could buy a boat for her son.

We see people teetering these days between a belief that God caused all sorts of ills so that individuals could better fulfil certain functions later, and a kind of distress that said ills might have brought any benefit at all.

I suggest that the wisdom and skill and understanding that results directly from ills caused to us should be regarded as Weregild: as a partial reparation paid to us to ease the harm we suffered, so that we may draw back from declaring blood-feud (on our attackers, or Diety, or Society – whatever).

We would rather have our family member alive, or our missing limb restored, or our childhood uncorrupted. But the gifts that were offered as a result are useful.

For my weregild, I have a profound understanding of sexual psychology, a gift for description, and, from time to time, the tact to say things in a way that is both true and capable of being heard.

What is your weregild?

Tuppence in the change bowl.

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