''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
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
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
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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