''What Is Odinism?'' from Midgard Pagan BBS

1.  What do you mean by Odinism?

    Odinism is the indigenous religious faith of the Scandinavian, British and
    other peoples of Northern Europe; it is an amalgam of attitudes, ideas and
    behavior, both a personal faith and a communal way of life. In its
    beginings Odinism is probably as old as our race. Historically it may be
    divided into three periods:

     A.   Before the coming of Christianity
     B.   Its gradual merging with Christianity and the ensuing Period of
          Dual Faith, and
     C.   Its efforts in the present century to free itself of Christian
          influences and to reassert its ancient independence.

 2. How have the tenets of Odinism been preserved? 
    Is there an Odinist holy book?

    The ancient oral traditions of Odinism were during the Middle Ages
    embodied in writings, the Odinist books of wisdom, the principle of which
    are the Eddas.  The poetic Elder Edda presents the Odinist cosmogony, the
    mythological lays and the heroic lays, including the story of Sigurd and
    Brynhild which were in later times moulded into the Lay of the Nibelungs.
    The Younger Edda is a prose synopsis of the Odinist faith.

 3. When did Britain and the rest of Europe cease to be Odinist?

    The first of our Northern countries to succumb to the false promizes of
    the new religion were the Goths, in the fourth century of the Christian
    era; the Icelanders became Christians by official decree in the year
    1000 CE, to be followed by the Scandinavian countries over the next two
    hundred years. England was "converted" between 597 and 686 CE and Scotland
    somewhat earlier (although some of the people of Ross-shire were still
    worshipping the old Gods as late as the seventeenth century). Ireland,
    when Patrick the Proselytizer landed there in the year 432, was decribed
    as "a heathen land";  Dublin and the other principal Irish towns were
    actually founded by Odinist Vikings, who dedicated the country to the god

 4. Well, the people were converted to Christianity.  
    Would you have denied them their freedom of choice?

    They had no choice. Most of those who were "converted" had little 
    knowledge of Christian doctrine; the new religion was imposed on them by
    sword and sermon. The Revd S. C. Olland's Dictionary of English Church
    History   is explicit:   "The adoption of Christianity generally depended
    upon  State action:   the king and his nobles were baptized and the people
    largely followed their example. . . . .The wholesale conversions. . . . .
    could not have implied individual conviction."  On one day alone in the
    year 598 more than ten thousand English "converts" were baptized in a mass
    ceremony; it is unlikely that they had recieved a great deal of
    instruction in the Christian faith. Even in the twentieth century the vast
    majority of Christians are still quite ignorant of Christian doctrine. It
    was always so.

5.  Why do you say that Odinism was practiced in the Church
    during what you have called "the Period of Dual Faith"?

    We can see the evidence everywhere, even today. When the foreign
    missionaries subverted Britain what they could they repressed and what
    they could not they ignored or adopted. The ancient spring renewal
    festival of Summer Finding was transformed into the Christian feast of the
    Ressurrection; the Mid-winter festival of Yule became Christmas. Not only
    the folk festivals connected with the great changes of season - May Day
    and Midsummer and Harvest - but numerous customs associated with life's 
    milestones, birth and marriage and death, all showed that the old Gods
    lived on in the life and in the language of the people. Many of the
    external signs of the ancient faith were retained: water was consecrated
    and wood was blessed. A Christian writer, Professor P. D. Chantepie de la
    Saussaye DD, has said, "We recognize in this folklore a form of historical
    continuity, the bond of union between the life of the people in pagan and
    in Christian times." Even today when we say, "Touch wood!" we are
    recalling the sacred nature of an important symbol of our ancient
    religion; and how many people are aware that they are paying unconscious
    tribute to the Gods of Odinism when they light their Christmas or Paschal
    candals or their bonfire on the fifth of November? Or that the very
    "Christmas tree" is itself the World Ash of Odinism? Even the sign of the
    cross is really the sign of Thor's hammer!

6.  How lond did the Period of Dual Faith last?

    The period during which Odinism was actually practiced within the Church
    extended in Britain from about the seventh century CE right down to the
    1930's, when the purity of ancient worship was revived by a number of
    groups working outside the Church for the first time for more than a
    thousand years.  

7.  But the adoption of Christianity, a creed that preaches peace on earth
    and the equality of all men was, surely you must agree, a step forward
    in the civilizing of our people?
    Odinists were happy enough to put up with the new doctrines so long as
    they were allowed to go on practicing their own faith in peace. But
    the inherent contradiction at the heart of Christianity is that it
    denies in action the faith that it professes verbally. There is no
    history of religious warfare in Europe before the coming of
    Christianity. It is ironic indeed that the message of peace on earth
    has been propogated with so much bloodshed. As for the equality of all
    men, we just do not believe in it; and even the Christian god has his
    "chosen people".

8.  Why is it now necessary to reassert what you describe as Odinism's
    ancient independence? Why can you not , in the present unsettled state
    of society, leave well alone. Surely we should be getting together,
    not creating more divisions amongst ourselves?

    First of all it is necessary to state that because of its organic
    origins and development Odinism is a religion of visual truth.
    Nevertheless,for just so long as Christian and Odinist ethics
    coincided - even superficially - it was possible for Odinists to
    worship the Gods undertheir Christian designations; but only for so
    long as they remained adequate interpretations of the true divinities
    of Odinism (the nature of a god being of greater importance than his

    The Churches are today opposed to many of the things that Odinists hold
    sacred:  they sin against nation and people by espousing causes whose
    ultimate aim is our destruction; they condone legislation that has
    given statutory approval to unnatural sexual deviance and perversion;
    they encourage criminal activities by calling for the exemption from
    punishment, or even prosecution, of whole categories of lawbreakers;
    they provide financial aid for revolutionary propoganda and even
    terrorist activities against our own people; they remain totally
    indifferent to the rape of our countryside in the short-term interests
    of economic gain and technology; and they have successfully divided the
    people of our own islands against themselves (eg, in Ireland). Life in
    Northern Europe is today, after fifteen hundred years of Christianity,
    almost entirely concerned with material wealth and self-indulgence and
    the Christian clergy have largely forsaken their spiritual vocations in
    order to preach the causes of subversion and revolution.

         The people yearn for spiritual bread but have been offered by the
    Churches only a political stone. It is no longer possible for anyone
    who is aware of his debt to our past or who has concern for the future
    of our nation and race to remain within the Christian Church. This must
    not, however be taken to imply that Odinists bear hatred towards
    Christians; we recognize that there are many good and sincere people
    within the Christian community from whose example Odinists themselves
    could not fail to profit. But the Church is itself largely responsible
    for the "present unsettled state of society". Odinists see it as their
    duty to oppose those who menace the things that they regard as holy. If
    we cannot in justice always blame the sheep we should and do attack the

9.  But surely it would be preferable to have one god for all mankind?

    Why? One god or many Gods, it really does not matter. Our true Gods are
    actually worshipped by peoples all over the world, using their own
    mythologies and adapting their worship to local cultures and conditions.
    We prefer to worship the Gods in our own way with people of our own
    kind. And we respect the right of others to their own beliefs. It was
    an Odinist gothi (priest), Sigrith, who told the foreign missionaries,
    "I must not part from the faith which I have held, and my forefathers
    before me; on the other hand I shall make no objection to your believing
    in the god that pleases you best."

10. You have mentioned the "Gods of Nature". Does this mean that Odinists
    are nature-worshippers?

    Odinists recognize man's spiritual kinship with Nature, that within
    himself are in essence all that is in the greater world, which perform
    within him the same functions as in the world. Thus there are in man the
    four elements, the vegetative life of plants, an ethereal body - the god-
    soul - corresponding to the heavens, the sense of animals, of spiritual
    things and reason and understanding. Because in this way man comprises
    all the parts of the world within himself he is thus a true image of the

    Also containing the essence of the universe within themselves, the Gods
    are everywhere and in everything: they show themselves to us as fire, as
    a flower, as a tree. Odinists believe that all life should be lived in
    communion and in accord with the mind of the Gods. Christianity turned
    away from Nature and concentrated its adherents' attention on the human
    soul and became obsessed with the fall of man, by which it was implied
    that man had brought all Nature down into sin with him. Christian
    teaching encouraged man to see Nature only in her physical form whereas
    Odinists regard Nature as a true manifestation of the divine. "We and
    the cosmos are one," wrote D. H. Lawrence, "The cosmos is a vast living
    body, of which we are still part. The sun is the great heart whose
    tremors run through our smallest veins. The moon is a great gleaming
    nerve-centre from which we quiver forever. . . . Now all this is
    literally true, as men knew in the great past and as they will know
    again." Whoever shall properly know himself and all things in himself
    shall know the Gods. The Odinist, because of his awareness of his
    relationship with Nature, is able to feel a consanguinous kinship with
    plants and animals and the land - a complete oneness.

11. You speak of "the Odinist mythology". Do you really expect anyone to
    believe in a myth?

    Every religion is mythical in its development. Mythology is the
    knowledge that the ancients had of the divine; it is religious truth
    expressing in poetical terms mankind's desire for personal and visible
    gods.  The mythology of Odinism consists of a group of legends, fables
    and tales relating to The Gods, heroes, demons and other beings whose
    names have been preserved in popular belief. Our object must be to
    discover, with the help of our mythology, the Gods who manifest
    themselves throughout Nature:  in the streets and in the trees and in
    the rocks, in the running streams and in the heavy ear of grain, in
    the splendor of the sun by day and in the star-strewn sky at night.
    But it is not the myth that Odinists believe in but the Gods whom that
    myth helps us to understand.

12. What, then, is the Odinist mythology?

    Briefly, our mythology unfolds in five acts (which may be compared to
    the evolution of the seasons of the year):

      A.   the Creation (spring)
      B.   the time preceeding the death of Balder (summer)
      C.   the death of Balder (summer's end)
      D.   the time immediately after the death of Balder (autumn)
      E.   Ragnarok, the decline and fall followed by the regeneration of
           the world (winter and spring)

    The first effort of speculative man has always been to solve the
    mystery of existence, to ask what was in the beginning. The condition
    of things before the world's creation is expressed in the Eddas
    negatively; there was nothing of that which sprang into existence:

                                   Nothing was
                                   Neither land nor sea,
                                   Nor cool waves.
                                   Earth was not ,
                                   Sky was not,
                                   But a gaping void
                                   And no grass.

    Ymir was a frost-giant, eg chaotic matter:

                                   From Ymir's flesh
                                   The world was made,
                                   And from his blood the sea.
                                   Mountains from his bones,
                                   Trees from his hair,
                                   And the welkin from his skull.

    There were as yet no human beings upon the earth when one day as the Gods
    Odin, Hoener and Loder were walking along the seashore they saw two trees
    from which they created the first human pair. Odin gave them life and
    spirit, Hoener endowed them with reason and the power of motion  and Loder
    gave them blood, hearing, and a fair complexion. The man they called Ask
    (ash)--and the woman Embla (elm). As their abode the newly-created pair
    received from the Gods Midgarth and from them is descended the whole human

    Balder is the god of the summer, the favourite god of all Nature and a son
    of Odin; he is one of the wisest and most eloquent of the Gods and his
    dwelling is in a place where nothing impure can enter. The story of
    Balder, well-known in the Northern countries, finds explanation in the
    seasons of the year, in the change from light to darkness; he represents
    the bright and clear summer and his death is the impermanent victory of
    darkness over light, of winter over summer, of death over life. When
    Balder is dead, all Nature mourns. His death presages the disaster of
    Ragnarok, the consummation of the world, followed by its cleansing and
    return to the primal state.

    Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Gods, represents a great conflict between
    good and evil powers. The idea is already suggested in the story of the
    Creation in which the Gods are represented as proceeding from giants, that
    is from an evil and chaotic force. And whatever can be born must surely
    die. In the seasons and activities of Nature we see a constantly recurring
    picture of the necessity for death and the equal certainty of its being
    over-come. At Ragnarok all the worlds of Nature will be destroyed and even
    the giants must die. But from that catastrophe will emerge a renewed world
    and the Gods themselves will be born again. We see this drama enacted
    every year in minature when autumn heralds the period of decline and decay
    until with the spring we witness the magic of resurrection and new life.

    This, briefly told, is the myth that explained to our ancestors their
    origin and the origin of the world, the creation of life from chaos and
    the mergence of evolution and harmony.

13.  Who is Odin?

    Odin is the first and eldest of the Gods, the all-parvading spirit of the
    sun, the moon, the stars, the hills, the plains and of man. With his help
    were made heaven and earth and the first man and woman. All knowledge came
    from him; he is the inventor of poetry and discovered the runes; he
    governs all things, protects the social organization influences the human
    mind, avenges murder and upholds the sanctity of the oath. He is well
    named Allfather. And because he chooses to surround himself with a
    bodyguard of those who have fallen in battle he is also known as
    Valfather, Father of the Slain.

    In the mythology Odin's single eye (the other he sacrificed in exchange
    for wisdom) is the sun, his broad-brimmed hat the arched vault of heaven,
    his blue cloak the sky. A conspisuous passage in the Edda is Odin's
    sacrifice of himself to himself:

                                   I know I hung
                                   on the windy tree
                                   nine nights through:
                                   I know I hung
                                   I know I hung
                                   myself to myself,
                                   on the tree
                                   that springs
                                   from roots unknown.

    Order is the basis of Odin's government. Nature the garment by which he
    manifests himself. Odinism says:  study the natural laws, conform to them
    and you will prosper; ignore them or violate them and you must suffer.
    Just so far as you study and obey Nature exactly so far will Nature reward
    or punish you. For under Odin the government of Nature is harmonious and

14. Who are the other Gods of Odinism? What kind of Gods are they?

    We have already spoken of Odin and Balder. Of the other Gods the best-
    known is Thor, the most famous story concerning whom tells of this
    Warrior-God crushing the powers of chaos. He rules over clouds and rain
    and makes his presence known in the lightning's flash. He is the protector
    of the farm worker, the chief god of agriculture, a helpful deity who
    makes the crops grow and who also blesses the bride with fertility. In the
    words of Professor P. V. Glob, " He wishes all men well and stands by them
    in face  of their enemies and against the new God, Christ."  Tyr is the
    God of martial honor, the most daring and intrepid of the Gods. He
    dispenses justice in time of peace and valor in war. He it was who
    sacrificed a hand when overpowering the evil Fenris Wolf, showing us that
    we ourselves must be prepared to make sacrifices in order to protect
    ourselves and our kin from those who seek to cast our society into anarchy
    and chaos.

    Frey is God of the harvest and is therefore also a God of fecundity and
    growth; some authorities believe that he and Christ may have becom
    blended, in England at least, in so a God of fecundity and growth; some
    authorities believe that he and Christ may have becom blended, in England
    at least, in the new religion of Christianity. Freya is a Goddess of love
    and the sister of Frey: barren women may invoke her and she is also the
    Goddess of death for all women. Another God, Vali, is called he Avenger
    because when he was yet only one night old he avenged Balder's death, thus
    demonstrating the moral obligation we have of punishing society's enemies.
    Other Gods include Brage, Heimdal, Vidar, Frigg and Forsete.

    The Gods of Odinism are the ordaining powers of Nature clothed in
    personality. They direct the world which they themselves created. They are
    referred to collectively as the Aesir, of whom every living thing forms  a
    part (thus not all the Gods are necessarily good ones). Objects and
    phenomena that are regarded as greater or lesser Aesir are qualities such
    as thought and memory, and natural things such as the sun, rivers,
    mountains and trees as well as animals and ancestral spirits. There are
    also the guardian Gods of the land, of skills and occupations and the
    spirits of national heroes, the Einheriar and other men and women whose
    outstanding deeds and virtues have contributed to our civilization,
    culture and well-being.

15. Is there a table of commandments that sets out the rules to be
    followed by Odinists?

    The main rules of Odinist conduct are listed in the Nine Charges which

    1.   To maintain candor and fidelity in love and devotions to the tried
         friend:  though he strike me I will do him no scathe.
    2.   Never to make a wrongsome oath:  for great and grim is the reward for
         the breaking of plighted troth.
    3.   To deal not hardly with the humble and lowly.
    4.   To remember the respect that is due great age.
    5.   To suffer no evil to go unremedied and to fight against the enemies
         of family, nation, race and faith:  my foes will I fight in the field
         nor be burnt in my house.
    6.   To succor the friendless but to put no faith in the pledged word of a
         stranger people.
    7.   If I hear the fool's word of a drunken man I will strive not: for
         many a grief and the very death groweth out of such things.
    8.   To give kind heed to dead men:  straw-dead, sea-dead or sword-dead.  
    9.   To abide by the enactments of lawful authority and to bear with
         courage and fortitude the decrees of the Norns.

    The Charges are based on the rules of life indicated by the High Song of
    Odin and in the Lay of Sigurd in which the Valkyrie gives counsel to
    Sigurd. They may be summarized as demanding in the struggle for life a
    self-reliance which should be earned by a love of learning and industry, a
    prudent foresight in word and deed, moderation in the gratification of the
    senses and in the exercise of power, modesty and politeness in intercourse
    and a desire to earn the goodwill of our fellow men.

16. The first four Charges seem fairly innocuous, but I must say the
    Fifth Charge sounds rather sinister! Isn't it all very violent and

    "To suffer no evil to go unremedied," does appear to run contrary to the
    trends of modern progressive thinking. And the idea of fighting "against
    the enemies of family, nation, race and faith" would be anathema to many
    people. Unlike the Christian, whose duty it is to "turn the other cheek"
    (advice that is more often observed ub tge breach than otherwise) and to
    be patient and long-suffering under the most grievous attacks, it is the
    duty of the Odinist to punish wrongs and above all those wrongs offered to
    his own family and kin. Society's enemies already know the basic law of
    life:  that the race is to the strong and that the meek will inherit th
    earth only when the earth inherits them dust to dust. Others should also
    learn to recognize this truth.

17. What do you mean by "kinship loyalty"?

    We must of course give loyal service to anyone or any concept to whom or to
    which loyalty is due. But we owe our loyalty in the fullest degree to our
    immediate family and to those who are related to us by blood-ties or blood-
    brotherhood. A husband owes loyalty to his wife, for instance, and vice
    versa, just as a son owes loyalty to his parents to a greater extent than
    to anyone outside the immediate family circle. Beyond that we owe allegiance
    to our own country and racial kindred before we can even consider giving it
    to strangers who must therefore have the last call upon us. Buth there may
    be occasions when loyalty to nation and kin must transcend even our loyalty
    to our own family.

    This concern for kin is an essential part of Odinist teaching. More than
    twelve centuries ago the Christian proselytizer, Boniface, wrote of the
    Odinists, "Have pity on them, because even they  themselves are accustomed
    to say, "We are of one blood and one bone". Filial love, patriotism and
    kinship loyalty are religious pronciples still adhered to by Odinists. In
    the words of the Edda:

     We shall help our kinsmen as foot helps foot. . .
     If one foot stumbles then shall the other restore balance.

18. You seem to have an exaggerated respect for things like law and order!
    What about unjust laws?

    No, not an "exaggerated respect for law and order";  just regard for the
    rules by which civilized man must live. But laws, to be just, must apply
    equally to all citizens and groups without discrimination. Odinists
    certainly have a duty to oppose what they regard as unjust laws but in
    doing so they accept the consequences of their oppostion and do not expect
    to be given exemption or favorable treatment.

19. What view do Odinists take of modern, enlightened substitutes for
    traditional, repressive forms of punishment? Do you agree that the
    wrong-doer in our society is more often than not the victim of his
    environment and that we are thus all guilty?

    Odinists refuse to accept responsibility for the actions of others. Just
    as it would be wrong to accept credit for another person's merits so it is
    wrong to relieve the wrong-doer of responsibility for his actions. "Crime
    should be blazoned abroad by its retribution," wrote Tacitus. Punishment
    should be an unpleasant and memorable experience. Those in authority who
    neglect to punish the criminal adequately place themselves in the position
    of being accessories after the fact. Odinists believe that anyone who
    seriously or continually flouts the law should forfeit for a period of
    time his rights to protection under that law; enemies of the community
    should not be permitted to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds!

20. The Sixth Charge speaks about putting no faith in the pledged word of
    a stranger people. What is meant by "a stranger people"?

    By "a stranger people" we mean those from different cultures than our own.
    It is a warning that words often mean different things to different
    peoples, that their standards are not always the same as our own. It is
    simply one of those things in life that ought to be widely known and
    appreciated but does not seem to be!

21. Please explain the Ninth Charge, which speaks of "the decrees of the
    Norns". Who or where are the Norns?

    The Norns are the three Fates of Northern mythology, the Goddesses of
    time. They are named Urd (the past), Verdande (the present) and Skuld (the
    future). They watch over man; they spin his thread of fate at his birth
    and mark out with it the limits of his sphere of action through life;
    their decrees are inviolable destiny, their dispensations inevitable
    necessity. Urd and Verdande, the past and present, may be seen as
    stretching a web from the radiant dawn of life to the glowing sunset,
    while Skuld, the future tears it to pieces!

    Man's fate must be met but the way in which it is met rests with the
    individual; and by the way in which he meets his fate man is able to
    demonstrate his free will. This important principle shows a man that it is
    worth while fighting life's battles courageously while at the same time
    fate's inexorable nature allows no room for careful weighing of  arguments
    for and against or for anxiety about the nature of things that are in any
    case destined to happen.

22. What other aspects of human behavior are admired by Odinists?

    The Noble Virtues are held in high esteem.   They are:


    The Odinist must do what lies before him without fear of either foes,
    friends or the Norns. He must hold his own council, speak his mind and
    seek fame without respect of persons; be free, indipendant and daring in
    his actions; act with gentleness and generosity towards friends and
    kinsmen but be stern and grim to his enemies (but even towards the latter
    to feel bound to fulfill necessary duties);  be as forgiving to some as he
    is unyielding and unforgiving to others. He should be neither trucebreaker
    nor oathbreaker and utter nothing against any person that he would not say
    to his face. These are the broad principles of Odinist behavior, features
    of the spirit that made our Northern peoples great.

23. You call industriousness a Noble Virtue?  What is so spiritual about

    Industriousness is a virtue which, partly inherited, is nevertheless
    acquired largely through training  and self-dicipline; it is at once
    something we owe to ourselves, to our family and to the community. There
    is a time for relaxation as there is a time for most things but it is not,
    for instance, during our working hours; neither should it be at the
    expense of other members of the community by way of the so-called welfare

24. What about material possessions?

    A principle of Odinism is the realization of the worthlessness and
    fleeting nature of worldly possessions. Enough should be enough. Adam of
    Bremen, a Christian, remarked how Odinists with whom he had come into
    contact "lack nothing of what we revere except our arrogance. They have no
    aquisitive love of gold, silver, splendid chargers, the furs of beaver and
    marten or any of the other possessions we pine for". One thing alone is
    worth whild n this life:  the stability of a well-earned reputation.
    "Goods perish, friends perish, a man himself perishes," says the Edda "but
    fame never dies to him that hath won it worthily."

25. You describe self-reliance as one of the Noble Virtues. Surely even
    you must admit that none of us is, or can be, self-reliant in these

    Self reliance does not, as you appear to suggest, imply selfishness or
    mean that a man must live in isolation from his fellows. We recognize that
    men is dependent upon Nature and on the community of which he forms part;
    he has obligations to that community as well as to his employer (or
    employees). He receives from society and he owes a debt to society.
    Odinism teaches that people must be encouraged to stand on their own feet
    and not to ask continually, "When is somebody going to do something for

26. Do Odinists believe in prayer?

    Odinism is not a philosophy invented to ease mankind's comfort or to 
    assuage his fears; that kind of religion acts against rather than in man's 
    interests because it takes from him his independence and self-respect and 
    makes of him a humble supplicant by encouraging him to shed his 
    responsibilities. The person who prays to a saint or God asking for help 
    or uidance is seeking to shift the responsibility from his own shoulders, 
    surrendering his own faculties of thought and physical action, unless he 
    also does something to help himself. To pray is to beg and plead; it is 
    self-abasement ("we worms of the earth"). That is not the object of true 
    religion which, as Carlyle has told us, is "trancendent wonder":  wonder 
    without limit or measure, reverent admiration alike for the immensity of 
    creation, the inspiration of the human heart and the capability of the 
    human brain. 

    Odinists in their inveitan (praise); singular, inveita) call upon the Aesir 
    to approach them in their thoughts as they themselves strive towards the 
    Aesir. Through increased understanding is achieved wholeness, a unity with 
    the Gods that helps us to think out our problems and how they may be 
    overcome. We project the Gods within ourselves and that, externally 
    realized, speaks to the divine in others. Through their invetian Odinists 
    express gratitude for life and the world they live in and resolve to try 
    to make it better - not just to leave it to "someone up there" or hope for 
    something better in the next world. 

27  How do Odinists regard good and evil?

    Evil of itself cannot originate in man but must always be regarded as an
    intruder, like an illness or an affliction; as such it must be opposed and
    expelled. Good and evil are relative:  there can be no absolure norm and
    actions must depend upon circumstances and motives as well as time and
    place. The ethical standards relating to custom and tradition are flexible
    and responsive to the specific demands of different ages, so that moral
    judgements of what is right and wrong cannot be placed in a fixed system
    of standards but must vary according to time and situation. Just as the
    world is constantly changing so are values constantly changing, so that
    nothing can be regarded as unconditionally good or evil in all ages. In
    general, that which disturbs the social order and peaceful evolution and
    causes unhappiness - including such natural disasters as floods and
    earthquakes, disease and pollution - obstructs the natural development of
    the world and must be regarded as evil. As for sin, Odinism knows but two
    major sins -  perjury and murder:  that is sin against the Gods and sin
    against one's fellow man.

28. Do you believe in Original sin?

    Man is inherently good and the world in which he lives is good. There is
    no sin in man which has been inherited from his first, or any other,
    ancestor; it is enough that he should be held responsible for his own
    actions. But a lthough his spirit is good, his flesh and his senses may
    succomb to evil, especially when by neglecting his own spiritual well-
    being he has left his defenses weakened. So it is necessary for him to be
    able to distinguish between what is good and what is evil.

29  What do Odinists believe about marriage - and divorce?

    Odinists support the institution of marriage and marital fidelity. But a
    broken marriage is and unhappy marriage and traditional Odinic law allows
    great latitude to separation of husband wife, at the will of both parties,
    if a good reason exists for the desired change. It is recognized that the
    worst possible service is rendered to those who are forced to live
    together against their will; but it must be borne in mind that marriage is
    basically a solemn exchange of vows between two people and as such can
    only be ended by agreement between the same two people.

30. Does Odinism offer salvation to those who believe?

    Odinism offers no salvation in the sense in which that term is used by
    Christians. Instead, the Odinist seeks liberation by bringing the Aesir
    into the world of man and into his daily life - whether at home or at
    work. Liberation refers to the human condition as we know it, which is
    subject to birth and death and decay. It is not, " the kingdom of God
    which is with in you," but the Gods themselves which exist within man.

31. Does man possess an immortal soul? Is there a life after death and
    will people go to Odin in heaven?

    Odinists believe that man consists of body (i.e. matter) and spirit or
    soul. Physical man is born, produces young and eventially dies. But the
    whole of Nature shows us that death is not final: the material body
    decomposes and recombines, it is regenerated and lives again. As it was in
    the beginning so it is now; every atom continues to exist and must exist
    as in the beginning. There is nothing new under the sun and what we call
    death is really nothing more than transformation.

    Spiritual man is divided into two distinct souls, one passive, the other
    active, the divine and the human, which we call God-soul and human-soul.
    The first is in the fullest sense a divine being, contemplating a past
    eternity and a future immortality, occupying itself in contemplation
    rather than in action and to be regarded as a kind of guardian spirit.
    Although the God-soul and the material body are associated in this life,
    the former is not bound to man in the way that, say, a limb is (it may
    indeed absent itself from his body during sleep or periods of
    unconsciousness). Without the spirit there can be no motivation:  when the
    physical change (i.e. death) takes place the God-soul passes to another 
    living  organism -a human being, a tree, an animal, perhaps a bird. This
    is the element that gives man his mystical attachment to a particular
    district or country (which is what we call patriotism):  because it is
    where the God-souls of countless generations of ancestors dwell. It is
    because of this that man is compelled to nurture, love and defend his
    country, which is, in the purest sense, a holy land. The philosopher
    Fichte said, "Death is the ladder by which my spiritual vision rises to a
    new life and a new nature." This is also the reason why Odinists regard
    all life as sacred and unnecessary violence as criminal.

    The human-soul (or self-soul), is essentially individual to a particular
    person. It may be likened to his personality, his fame or his infamy.
    Because the whole of man's life is a continuing struggle of the good and
    light Gods on the one hand and the offspring of chaotic matter (the
    giants, Nature's disturbing forces) on the other, the human-soul is
    extremely active. It is involved in a struggle that extends to man's
    innermost being: both the human-soul and the God-soul proceed from the
    Gods; but the body be longs to the world of giants and they struggle for
    supremacy. If the human-soul conquers by virtue and courage then it goes
    after death to Valhalla, to fight in concert with the Gods against the
    evil powers. If on the other hand the body conquers and links the spirit
    to itself by weakness then after man's death the human-soul sinks to the
    world of the giants and joins itself with the evil powers in their warfare
    against the Gods. Long after his individual identity has been forgotten a
    man's human-soul, absorbed into the corporate spirit of the regiment,
    college, village, nation or other group, continues to demonstrate its
    immortality by inspiring future generations to noble deeds - or to acts of

32. If the God-soul migrates to other living things after death, how can
    you square this with, for example, the need to slaughter livestock in
    order to sustain human life? Isn't it rather like killing a God?

    The God-soul must not be confused with the being that it inhabits.
    Animals, birds and trees have always been regarded by Odinists with
    respect; it is indeed probable that the domsestication of some sreatures
    arose from their former sacred character. Every living thing is a
    manifestation of the divine and its spirit is immortal:  every time a tree
    is felled or an animal slaughtered it is indeed a kind of sacrifice. But
    the tree or the animal is only a temporary dwelling-place for the immortal
    God. Everything in Nature has a purpose and it is necessary in order that
    life may be sustained in others for such "sacrifices" to be made. Such an
    attitude encourages consideration and reverence for Nature and discourages
    its wanton despoliation. It is the unnecessary, cruel or unnatural killing
    of animals (or of human beings), the unjustifiable destruction of trees or
    landscape and the defiling of natural resources, that is wrong.

33. You have mantioned "ancestral spirits". Does this mean that Odinists
    believe in ancestor-worship?

    The human-souls of one's own family ancestors provide us with  moral
    strength and inspiration. Just as we received our spirit from Odin, so we
    received our physical being through our parents and our ancestors from
    time memorial. Our respect for ancestors maintains the continuity of the
    family, the kin and the race. We have a duty to try to attain the ideals
    of our ancestors and an equal duty of cherishnig our descendants so that
    they in their turn will come to understand and realize our own hopes and
    ideals. Life is continuing process:  we must try to visualize ourselves as
    ancestors; for ancestors and descendants are genealogically one. Edmund
    Burke once remarked that society was a partnership between those who were
    living, those who are dead and those yet to be born; past and present and
    future are seen as a continuing evolvemant and must be looked upon as
    complete being.

34. What kind of status do women have within the Odinist community?

    Odinists do not need reminding of women's rights! Our religion anciently
    held women in high honor: not only are Goddesses included in the Odinist
    pantheon, but, when the Odinist priesthood is restored, all offices will
    be open to women just as they were before the Christian usurpation
    relegated them to permanent backbenches of religious life.

35. What are the chief festivals of the Odinic Rite?

    In ancient times there were three great festivals: Yule (the Mid-Winter
    Festival), Summer Finding (or spring equinox) and Winter Finding (autumn
    equinox). To these we nowadays add the Midsummer Festival.

    Yule, the popular Festival of Mid-Winter (sometimes called the Festival of
    Light), heralds the beginning of the Odinist year. It is the birthday of
    the unconquered sun, which at this time begins to new vigor after its
    autumnal decline when, having descended into darkness, it pauses, kindles
    the fire of germination and ascends renewed with the fruit of hope. The
    Mid-Winter Festival includes the Twelve Nights of Yule, encapsulating the
    twelve months of the year in miniature, and culminates in the celebration
    of Twelfth Night.

    Summer Finding, in March, is the Festival of Odin. It celebrates the
    renewal, or resurrection, of Nature after the darkness of winter. It was
    transformed by the Christians into their Easter (named after the Odinist
    Goddess of the Saxons, Ostara), Rogation and Whitsun and was also recalled
    in folk custom by the festivities of May Day.

    The Midsummer Festival, the Feast of Balder, is the great celebration of
    the triumph of light and the sun.

    Winter Finding mourns the death of summer and heralds the coming of
    autumn. It is dedicated to the god Frey, patron of the harvest, and is
    also sometimes called the Charming of the Fruits of Earth, when we render
    thanks for the years supply of life-giving foods.

36. What other Odinist festivals are there?

    Besides the great festivals there are a number of secondary festivals and
    also some commemorations of local Gods or various aspects of life.

    The secondary festivals of the Odinic Rite are:
    The Charming of the Plough,  January 3
    The festival of Vali, Febuary 14, which commemorates the family and is an
    occasion for betrothals, the renewal of marriage vows and vows of kinship
    The festival of the Einheriar on November 11, known as Heroes'  day, which
    honors the dead.

37. What is the Odinist Committee?

    The committee for the Restoration of the Odinic Rite (to give its full
    title) was set up on April 23, 1973 with the limited objects of restoring
    Odinist ritual and ceremonies, to define Odinist faith and doctrine and to
    constitute a teaching order of gothar (singular: gothi, meaning priest of
    teacher). When these immediate objects have been achieved the Committee
    will  disband. In the past not a great deal of attentiion was paid to
    systemizing the doctrinal aspects of Odinism and consequently the body of
    writing on the subject has remained limited and uneven. The Odinist
    Committee will place the worship of the Aesir on a more formal and
    permanent basis.

38. How do I go about becoming an Odinist?

    First of all by understanding, then by believing. You do not have to "be
    born again" but you are  expected to live your whole life according to the
    Odinist precepts. There is a ceremony of reception (or initiation) into
    the Odinist community for those who wish it. The secretary of the Odinist
    Committe, 10 Trinity Green, London, E1, will be able to tell you whether
    there is an Odinist group in your neighborhood or, if there is not one,
    how you may form one.

39. Can the Odinist Committee supply me with a list of Odinist temples
    and shall I be permitted to attend some of the inveitan?

    There are at present no Odinist hofs (temples) in Great Britain open for
    public worship. Odinism starts with the individual and extends, through
    the family, to the communtiy and the world. So with worship, which is at
    present practiced mostly at family level, the festivals of the Odinist
    year being celebrated in the home, with friends and other Odinist
    sometimes being invited to participate. But it is expected that various
    regional meeting places will be authorized when eventually the ritual of
    Odinist worship has been fully restored and gothar licensed by the
    successor body to the Odinist committee.

	               These things are thought the best:
                              Fire, the sight of the sun,
                       Good health with the gift to keep it,
                             And a life that avoids vice.

                                           The High Song of Odin *

* The verse from The High Song of Odin is from Paul B. Taylor and W H
Auden's translation of The Elder Edda and is reproduced by permission of
Messrs Faber and Faber. Other quotations from the Eddas in the foregoing
pages are from the translation by Rasmus B. Anderson.


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