These old people were certainly presumptuous, weren't they? I mean, really, thinking that they were descended directly from the Gods. Not just this Saxon scribe, either. Snorri says as much in the the Heimkringla, Saxo Grammaticus says the same in the Gesta Danorum, and that rascal, the Venerable Bede also noted it. We moderns can't be descended from the Gods because, as it has been handed over to us from the Christians, the Moslems, the Jews, and some of the oriental religion which has been translated into a hodge-podge by the wishy-washy New Age, Gods, by nature, are omnipotent, extremely mystical, and far above ordinary humans. But what if this information that we take for granted, i.e. "we can't be descended from the Gods," is wrong?
There is a good possibility that the word "god" did not mean exactly the same thing in the pre-Viking Era as it does now. We moderns have a tendency to assume that it always meant the same thing. After all, a chair is a chair no matter what period of time we are talking about (well, the details may have been a little different, but basically it is recognizable as the same thing , at least, from the standpoint of function). When we talk about a "god," though, we are talking about much more than a "thing"; we have to concede that along with the idea comes certain qualitative and quantitative issues which do not necessarily have the same stability over time as an object does.
Talking about a titled person, even though the actual person may not change over time (which they do, really), the significance of the title will. For example, "king" does mean the same thing now as it did in the early Viking Age. Kingdoms at that time were rather smallish (compared to modern standards). A king could well afford to know most of his subjects and could walk across his kingdom in a day or two. Nowadays, a king would be hard-pressed to be able to drive around his country on a freeway in the same amount of time. Kings and Presidents, these days, carry a lot of weight in their decisions (possibly more than they should be allowed), but this was not so in the early Viking Era. Not having yet given up all control in their lives, freemen set it like this: Kings made a suggestion and the rest of the village council (made up of members of the community) would decide if it were to be followed or not. Tacitus says in the beginning of Chapter 7 of Germania
"They choose their kings for their noble birth, their commanders for their valour. The power of even kings is not absolute or arbitrary." (Tacitus, H. Mattingly, trans., Tacitus: The Agricola and the Germania (Penguin Classics; London) 1970, p. 107.
Foote and Wilson in The Viking Achievement write
"The king derived his special nature from his paternal ancestors but his real powers were firmly regarded as lent him by the people. . . .The old Frostathing Law says: 'No man shall make an attack on another, neither the king nor anyone else. And if the king does this, then an arrow message shall be sent round all the [eight] fylke, and he is to be sought out and killed if he is found. And if he escapes, he is never to return to the country.' The king was subject to the law, not above it" (p.138).
These days, we aren't even allowed to make a joke about the king (or President, if you live in the U. S. A.) without that the remark goes into some file in the intelligence agency under our name. Things have certainly changed over the years and kings have gained in power somehow.
The view of politics becomes the spiritual cosmography of a people. Interactions between man and king mirrors the interaction between man and a God. When the head political figure becomes unavailable to the common man for audience, so does a God become also unavailable hiding behind priests, gurus, and other professional bull-shitters. Views of the Afterlife also fall into this "mirroring." It's almost as easy to get into Paradise as it is to get into the palace or the White House; everybody loves to spout off about how they are going to get there someday. Name-dropping is a custom that has become popular for the weekend shaman (or, in the case of the weekend heathen, seiðman of little sands and small seas).
From this Seiðman's experience, Gods are not often run across in the Otherworld. Far more common are the inhabitants of the Villages of the Dead in Helheim.
Gods can be disobeyed or even tricked.
They are mortal, of this world (Yggdrasil/ Laræþ), and are
subject to the whims of Their Norns as we are subject to the whims
of ours. (Note: read Snorri's Prose Edda for a discussion
of the different Norns; Umo Holmberg also has a chapter in his Finno-Ugric
Mythology dealing with this.) The Gods are powerful by Their heritage;
They have enormous amounts of luck doled out as Their fate, but They are
not omnipotent by a longshot.
Want to worship the Gods? Seek to
understand Their mortality as well as Their power. Look at the Frostaþing
Law [above] again, reread the Hávamál one more time,
then go out and do your First Ancestors honor.