The Alfather Odin is the God of Widom, Poetry, War, Ecstasy, and Death. He is the chief God of the Aesir and from who Odinism derives its' name.
Odinism is a religion that involves the worship of the Ancient Gods and Goddesses of Pre-Christian (Pagan) Europe - it comprises the indigenous Wisdom, worldview, and customs of the Indo-European people; Because this religion pertains to the culture of a specific genetic group of people, it is generally considered to be an ethnocentric or "Folkish" belief system - thus notions of Kinship and Tribalism are prominent themes in a majority of Odinic philosophies and practices.
Odinism derives it's name from the God Odin (called Woden in Anglo-Saxon, Wotan in German). Also known as the Allfather, Odin is the chief God of the "Aesir", the Pantheon of Gods of the Northern European or "Germanic" peoples. The Aesir are the preeminent deities observed in Odinism; And because these Gods are especially associated with the Ancient Scandinavians, or Norsemen, Odinism has often been dubbed "the Religion of the Vikings".
The Vikings epitomized the warrior ethos that is found in Odinism and have made a lasting impression on the world as a result; There are a few things, however, worth pointing out here for the sake of clarity:
For one, even though the Ancient Scandinavians often worshipped the same Gods, not ALL Norsemen were Vikings and therefore did not earn their living through conquest and plunder, many Norse men and women worked any of the various trades of the time such as farming and fishing, blacksmithing and carpentry, and other such crafts - their ships, known as " longships", were highly prized and represented the height of nautical technology in their day. The Norsemen were NOT the dirty backwards savages they are often portrayed as in popular culture, but were in reality highly skilled craftsmen with a keen eye for aesthetics, and in addition to producing the fierce warriors they are known for, the Norse also had a very well developed society and social structure - they even had some of the highest standards of grooming and personal hygiene of the time!
King Harald's messenger to Gyda, Nils Bergslien (1891)
Norse culture represented a perfect paragon of Traditional Male masculinity and Female femininity - far from the savages they are sometimes made out to be, their ethical codes, as well as their dress and grooming habits were amongst the most cultivated at the time.
An original viking tool kit that contained over 150 items - including hammers, chisels, shears for trimming metal, rasp, tools for making nails, etc.
looking like something from a fantasy movie, this gilt chest of bronze and ivory was made in Ancient Scandinavia around 1100 AD - the fine craftsmanship is a testament to the skill of the Norsemen.
As important as the Viking Age and Norse culture may be to the philosophy and practice of Odinism it should also be noted that this era did not even begin until around 750 AD and ended around 1050 AD, when by then Christianity had consumed most of Europe through mass-conversions which were often times brutally forced under pain of death; thus the Viking Age represents what is essentially the violent last breaths of a religion FAR more ancient than the Vikings themselves, and many thousands of years older than the religion of the Christians that was seeking to eradicate Paganism.
Stone structures connected to Heathen worship can be found scattered all over Europe - some of these structures date as far back as the Stone Age and still stand today as a testament to the prehistoric origins of this religion. Some of these stone structures - such as the Stone Henge in England and the Externsteine located in the Teutoberg Forest in Germany - were used as ancient solar observatories and reveal that our Heathen Ancestors held a remarkably prescient understanding of celestial phenomena. These observatories work in a way similar to that often dramatically portrayed in Hollywood Adventure movies, where on a certain day at a certain time a heavenly light shall shine upon an ancient altar or sacred object; In the case of the two observatories mentioned above, the heavenly light in question is the Sun at its summer solstice.
the Stone Henge (Top) and the Externsteine (Bottom), the former is man-made, while the latter is naturally formed with man-made alterations.
As previously mentioned, the pagan religion and customs of Europe were largely displaced by Christianity - in some instances these customs were preserved in remote areas and passed on as "folktales" or "folkways", hence the word " pagan" literally means "country dweller" in Latin because the old customs still survived in rural areas; other times pagan customs were renamed and directly absorbed into Christianity as a way to get the people to accept the new religion - for example, the important traditional pagan Yule celebration was rebranded as "Christmas" and retained many of the original pagan elements such as the mistle toe and the "Christmas" tree - even Santa Claus is a transmogrification of Odin himself! The word Yule (from the old Norse Jol) means "feast" and is often parroted in relation to Christmas as in the phrase "Yuletide cheer"; The Christian "Easter" holiday replaced the pagan worship of "Ostara" or "Eostre", the Goddess of the Eastern Dawn, a fertility goddess whose symbols happen to include rabbits and painted eggs. Yule and Ostara are indigenous European holidays and have no real relation whatsoever to the supposed birth, death, and resurrection of the Middle Eastern Christ, but are actually pagan celebrations of solar cycles, the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox respectively. Well known Christian rites such as the baptism and the communion have also been borrowed from older pagan traditions.
Eastre by Johannes Ghertsillustration from Myths of the Norsemen from the Eddas and Sagas by H.A. Guerber
Because paganism died out in Europe during the Middle Ages, there have been no longstanding institutions or doctrines in place to act as a central authority in preserving the ancient customs and traditions of our heathen ancestors exactly as they were; Modern pagans (also called Neo-Pagans) must therefore rely on a wide variety of sources ranging from Scientific studies, Archaeological finds, Historical documents, and Folklore in order to reconstruct this religion as close as possible to the traditional faith while still finding relevance to the Modern world - some Neo-Pagan philosophies even study other religions that may not seem related at a first glimpse but ultimately share the same Ancient Indo-European roots, such as Hinduism for instance. Studies in comparative religions may reveal some understanding through common threads (for example: However suprising it may be, it is no mere coincidence that the Vedic Thunder God Indra is described as having golden hair and beard, he drives a chariot, battles monsters, and seems to have a lot in common with the Nordic Thunder God, Thor)
Thor: Lord of Thunderby Ulf (2020)
The broken continuity between Pre-Christian Paganism and Post-Modern Paganism has led some scholars of religion to refer to Odinism and other similar heathen movements rather irreverently as an "invented tradition" or a "new religion"; In all truth and fairness, however, there are few, in any, religions that have not changed over time into something very different from their archaic form; In any case, many Odinists believe that all things are cyclic in nature, so just as a living organism will live and die, so a living religion will ultimately die as well, and the "seeds" left behind from that active belief system will grow into a new belief system with traits of the parent religion, albeit somewhat different. In this sense Odinism is a relatively young religion as much as it is an ancient tradional faith, and because there is no well-established central authority as of yet, it is a largely non-dogmatic belief system with lots of room for growth - this can be a fresh and exciting frontier for people of European heritage who are looking for something to believe in, but are tired of the stale platitudes of Christianity which often feel unrealistic and are ultimately incompatible with life and survival itself. Of course this is not to say that Odinism has no foundations or roots - in truth Odinism has a much broader and deeper foundation than Christianity - there has just been far less work done towards formalizing and institutionalizing this belief, especially when compared to Christianity.
Valheim Hof is a heathen temple in the Danish town of Korinth. It is the first pagan temple to be built since the Christianization of Scandinavia.
The main accepted texts of Odinism are the Icelandic Sagas and the Poetic Edda. There are about 40 Icelandic Sagas in number; these are semi-historical accounts of Legendary Heroes and Viking adventurers (including the discovery of America by Leif Eriksson, or Vinland as he called the land). The Sagas also cover the Christian conversion of Iceland as well as biographies of Scandinavian kings. The sagas were written in Iceland in the 12th through 14th centuries, and narrate events that took place between 930 AD - 1030 AD. Saga writing represents some of the earliest foundations of novel writing.
The Poetic Edda is a collection of 29 poems preserved in a manuscript from c.1270 known as the Codex Regius and dating from the 9th and 12th centuries, but the oral traditions on which these are based are believed to be still much older. The beautifully written poems of the Edda tell of the Norse Gods and their adventures and of the beginnings and endings of the Cosmos in the Norse worldview. These poems often have a dark Arcane quality that makes it easy to see how they inspired J.R.R.Tolkien to write his Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Other times they are lighthearted and even comical accounts of some of the misadventures of the Gods. The poetic Edda is sometimes called the "Saemundar Edda" because it was mistakenly believed to have been written by an early Icelandic historian, Saemundr Sigfusson - this was to distinguish it from the "Prose Edda", which is a prose (ordinary language) retelling of the Poetic Edda written around 1220 AD by Snorri Sturlusson , an Icelandic Monk. The Poetic Edda is generally preferred by Odinists, but the prose Edda can also be a useful and interesting companion.
This thirteenth century Icelandic manuscript known as the 'Codex Regius' is the sole-source for most of the Poetic Edda.
Odinists typically do not think of the Edda and Sagas as being handed to us directly from the Heavens as a Christian often regards his bible; A book is a book - it is a product of man and is thus prone to error; These stories do however contain the Spirit of our Folk and in that sense they ARE Sacred to Odinists.
Interpretation sometimes varies in regards to the "Lore", as the body of traditional pagan knowledge and beliefs is often called; This has led to the splintering of neopaganism or "heathenry" at large into various factions and schools of thought. While these different camps certainly share common roots and often have overlapping beliefs, there are some fundamental differences that sometimes exist on the surface. Amongst the various labels those titled Odinism, Wotanism, Wodenism, and Odalism all tend to be rather socially conservative and promote traditional values, ethnic integrity, and more or less traditional gender roles. Irminism is a variation that emphasises German traditions. Theodism and Fyrnsidu focus more on Anglo Saxon traditions. Asatru is generally more liberal and are known as "Universalists" because they hold the belief that anyone can adopt European paganism regardless of race or sexual orientation - variations of Asatru include Vanatru, which empashises the Vanir deities - Disitru, which emphasises the goddesses - and Rokkatru, which worships the Jotnar, or giants, of Norse mythology.
It should be understood that these brief designations are only common generalities . You are subject to find very diverse ideas and contradictions even within groups going under these same titles.
It should be noted that Ancient pagans did not call themselves "Odinists" or "Asatruar" or any other such title as there was no need to distinguish themselves in a land where everyone shared mostly the same blood and had mostly the same worship. The closest title of seperation we have from the Viking Age for a somewhat separate or distinct form of worship is "Seidr", which is often translated as "magic" or "sorcery" - This practice was mostly centered around women and was considered rather taboo for men to learn. The oldest known reference to heathenry in distinction from something else was when early Scandinavian Christians referred to Paganism disparagingly as "Forn Seid" an Old Norse phrase meaning "Ancient Customs" - this title has been reappropriated in modern times and used in some Heathen circles.
Likewise the term "Heathen" which essentially means "of the heath" was used by Christians in reference to the old beliefs of the country folk.
The term has thus taken on a shade of meaning "savage" or "uncivilized".
The word has also been reappropriated today and is used proudly by many to identify themselves.
Odinism requires a bit of study to grasp what it's all about, thus it is often called "the religion with homework"; Odinists welcome such an inquiry into knowledge, for just as the all wise Odin traverses the realms in search of knowledge, so the followers of Odin are tasked with an unending quest for knowledge and truth.
Here we will delve a little deeper into the beliefs and worldview of Odinism. Because Christianity has been the dominant belief system of the West since the conversion of Europe, there is a lot in Odinism that stands out in stark opposition to what many people of European heritage have grown up hearing and even believing - to some this may make paganism hard to accept at first, but to many it often feels like "coming home" to something they can truly relate to , something that they have been missing in their life, something that feels far more natural to their psyche than what Christianity could ever offer - This is because Odinism is the continuation of the true religion of our European ancestors.
Because Christianity and Odinism are at times polar opposites, I will often draw comparisons between the two religions for the sake of contrast. Keep in mind that differences of thought are to be found throughout heathendom, but here I will attempt to discuss some of the fundamentals of Odinism and also offer some personal understanding and insights along the way, so if you happen to encounter differences of opinion just remember that this is par for the course in the heathen "scene".
All True Odinists will invariably have a profound respect for Nature and her laws; this should stand true throughout Heathendom as Paganism itself is rooted in Nature, hence these religions are sometimes called "Nature based" or "Natural" religions.
The Judaeo-Christian worldview sees the Earth as a fundamentally evil plane of existence, ruled by Satan - the flesh is considered to be inherently corrupt, tainted by the "original sin" of our supposed forebears, Adam and Eve. The dualistic worldview of Christianity seeks to separate the spirit world from material existence and thus commands followers to seek "spiritual things" and avoid "worldly pleasures". Such a path is (un)naturally difficult - if not all together impossible - to walk; As a result, many well intentioned believers are plagued with a host of psychoses brought about by this conflicting relationship between their minds, the flesh, and the world of material existence. Seeing the impracticality of Christianity, many Westerners have abandoned religion altogether and adopted a hollow atheistic worldview which has led to its' own share of problems, most notably a breakdown of traditional values in our societies.
In stark contrast to the worldview of the Eastern Abrahamic faiths (I.e. Christianity, Judaism, Islam), the worldview of the indigenous Indo European religions does NOT view spirit and matter as separate, conflicting entities, but rather as aspects of a unified whole, inseperably bound together; This is visually represented in an ancient motif which depicts the Vedic God Shiva (spirit) and the Godess Shakti (matter) in a state of perpetual sexual union. The Norse counterpart of Shiva is the god Odin who is likewise often thought of as a representation of spirit, mind, or consciousness; Odin's wife, Frigga, who is very "materialistic", is most likely a representation of the Earth, as she is called "the nurturer of all things".
Because the Indo European religions embrace a Sky father (spirit) / Earth mother (matter) worldview there is naturally a much healthier relationship between the self and the world found in these faiths; by extension it could also be argued that in these cultures there is a much healthier respect to be found for women, who are seen as the source of life and symbolic of nourishment; this is especially in contrast to the Abrahamic cultures, which are notorious for their abuse of women, who are generally seen as the blame for the "original sin" and are thus seen as symbols of "evil" and death.
The Odinist therefore does not seek refuge from the world of matter, but rather seeks to co-exist in harmony with nature.
Because Odinists view themselves as being a part of Nature rather than in conflict with Nature, the natural drives and feelings of the body are embraced and accepted for what they are, as opposed to being seen as whisperings of the devil to be eradicated as in the Christian worldview; therefore desires, lusts, jealousies, hatreds, and even murderous feelings are seen as natural drives and should be reasoned through and understood to be either conducive to accomplishing our higher goals or counterproductive. Obviously in a society with laws and punishments it can be counterproductive to go around acting on our every impulse and whim, but this still does not prevent these thoughts and feelings from arising; to harbor guilt over these feelings and see them as the work of "Satan" is unnatural and emotionally destructive. If we are honest with ourselves and practice self-discipline, our Natural drives and impulses can provide a useful self-study in order to better understand ourselves, our motives, what goals we wish to accomplish, and why this is important to us.
In general many Odinists are interested in Science and Natural Philosophy as these studies pertain to Nature and the understanding of Natural Law; it is not uncommon, however, to encounter Odinists who eschew certain advancements in technology - some may even go so far as to take a "primitivist" stance, believing that we should all go back to a very simple, perhaps anarchic stone age form of living in order to get closer to nature and thus have leeway to act on our every animal impulse. While this may certainly be a sexy proposition, i am of the mind that some form of law and order will always develop naturally as will technology. I am of the belief that technology is an extension of Man and Nature and should be utilized to the fullest so long as it is used responsibly and does not promote weakness or degeneracy (I am also of the mind that many atheistic minded people have misused and abused technology to the detriment of nature and to humanity, sheerly out of unprincipled greed).
Man is a social animal; Much like other creatures in nature, our survival and well being depends upon group activity to one extent or another - the Odinist is therefore naturally interested in the survival and well being of the Folk or Tribe. Odinists organize in groups, singularly called a "Kindred"; As like attracts like in the Natural world, homogeneous European heritage is essential for group harmony and ethnic integrity - because opinions vary as to who constitutes the immediate and extended tribe I will leave that to you and your kindred to define.
A belief in spirits or wights (called vaettir) that are said to inhabit lands and bodies of water can be found in records of Ancient Heathen worship; To what degree these spirits were personified varies with accounts - but it is through this belief that legends of fairies, elves, dwarves, nixies, nymphs, and other such magical creatures came into being.
The extent to which Odinists are willing to believe in the physical existence of these entities varies between individuals; However, they are generally not taken literally, and when they are, they are often thought to exist in other dimensions of reality that are ordinarily invisible to the human eye.
In my own view, I believe that at the simplest level anyone with any degree of sensitivity at all will be able to sense that a land DOES possess a sort of "spirit" - that is, you get a particular vibe or feeling from the place. Often the intent of good landscape painting is to capture this "spirit" of the land. There is nothing "hocus pocus" about this phenomenon however profound it can be, and it can sometimes even be recognized by people who might ordinarily be completely out of touch with nature, perhaps when surrounded by a beautiful landscape or forest they may suddenly find themselves wondering about the existence of a God or Gods. This is the power of Nature. It is easy to see how Ancient people would be moved to ascribe personalities to this energy found in Nature - likewise it is not out of the realm of ordinary to find "regular" people who talk to nature and to plants and trees.
Blue Ridge Mountains, GeorgiaThere is an undeniable "spirit" that is inherent to Nature
Being creatures of Nature ourselves, a person might even be drawn to a certain land where they really feel at peace or at home - this can be particularly true of ancestral homelands.
Odinists will often designate a grove or a tree as a sacred spot for worship - such an outdoor place of worship is known as a horg. You may have done a form of this naturally as a child or even as an adult when you found a special place in nature that you visited frequently, perhaps with friends, or even alone, maybe to just clear your head. Anyone who has done this can testify to the deep connection that develops over time to such a sacred spot.
Ancient heathens were known to give offerings to the landvaettir (land wights) in exchange for a blessing in return, such as for a good harvest. Offerings would likewise be made to seavaettir for a safe passage at sea. Odinists often continue the tradition of making offerings to vaettir today- with the right intent this can be a good ritual for establishing a closer connection with the land.
Tomten (The Gnome)by Ulf (2020)
The belief in Home sprites called a "tomte" also exists within Odinism and other heathen practices. Tomtar (plural) are often personified as the pointy hat Gnomes we all know and love so well. Just as there is an energy to nature, there is also a distinct energy to a home. In ancient times when land and property was inherited these home sprites were seen as the spirits of Ancestors - Today they may or may not be seen specifically as ancestors. Home spirits are considered to be helpful when they are happy and harmful and mischievous when they are unhappy. It is easy to understand how a disorganized, filthy, or unhappy household could harbor bad "energies" - things get lost, pests move in, the atmosphere becomes depressing; keeping a clean, well organized and well decorated house that appeals to the psyche will naturally invite good energies. Offerings can also be made to Tomtar.
The Gods and Goddesses that are observed in Odinism are primarily those of the Northern European or "Germanic" peoples - these deities are especially known as the Norse Gods and Godesses because records of their worship in Ancient Scandinavia were better preserved than in other areas of Europe. These Nordic deities include Odin, Thor, Frey, Baldur, Heimdall, Tyr, Freyja, and Frigga amongst several others. Sometimes Odinists may also take interest in Celtic, Roman, and Vedic deities as these cultures share common roots with the Germanic cultures.
Thor's Battle Against the Jotnarby Ulf (2021)
In the Norse Pantheon, Thor is the macho man archetype who takes no shit - As both a warrior and a fertility deity, He is often thought of symbolically as a Virile force that overcomes stagnant or stubborn obstacles and clears a path for new growth.
Sometimes when people hear that Odinists worship Thor, they are apt to dismiss the religion as being silly, this is simply because their only experience with the Norse Gods is from the popular Marvel super hero movies; it should be understood that these movie characters are Hollywood distortions of our Ancient Ancestral Gods and do NOT do justice to the Gods of the North - furthermore the actual worship of these deities is much more sophisticated than that of becoming giddy over a favorite super hero, although it could be argued that the phenomena is somewhat related.
In Odinism there are various methods of interpretation that are applied to understanding Norse mythology - any or all of the following methods are used to various degrees:
Euhemerism is a belief that the legends of the Gods are in reality semi-historical accounts of real people who's legacy has simply been exaggerated and elevated over time to a God-like status. This method of interpreting myths is named for Euhemerus, a 4th century Greek mythographer who interpreted the Greek myths in this way. Amongst Odinists, the euhemeristic approach to Norse mythology is perhaps the least popular - this is in part due to the fact that this approach was first suggested by the Christian monk Snorri Sturlusson in the preface of his prose retelling of the poetic Edda. In any case, many Germanic Kings often traced their lineage back to a God whom they claimed to be a direct descendant of.
Theosophical interpretations view the myths as being allegorical symbols that pertain to a more ancient scientific religion involving advanced knowledge of the cosmos and the evolution of man. It is held that stories or myths are a way of "encoding" and passing down knowledge that may otherwise be lost in time. Theosophy incorporates Buddhist and Brahmanic traditions as these religions ultimately share common Indo European roots with Germanic heathenism. The theosophical movement was founded in 1875 by the Russian mystic, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky along with an American colonel, Henry Olcott. A book titled "The Masks of Odin" by the Swedish scholar Elsa Brita Titchenell is a foundational text on the interpretation of Norse mythology through a Theosophical lens.
Many Odinists see the Gods as being Jungian, or racial Archetypes. Archetypes are paradigms or patterns after which we are inspired to model our behavior. They are thought of as Anthropomorphic symbols that awaken our Consciousness to higher states of awareness. These Archetypes constitute part of the culture of a people and are formed through oral traditions, writing, painting, and sculpture. The study of Archetypes was developed in the early 20th century by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung - it has become the most widely accepted form of interpretation of the Gods amongst Odinists.
There are some Odinists who profess a belief in the literal physical existence of these Gods - these practitioners are known as "hard" or "true" polytheists.
Guido von List, the late 18th- early 19th century Austrian Wotanist, proposed a monotheistic (belief in one God) form of Heathen worship and was turned off by polytheism (the belief in many Gods). It is quite possible that many Heathen tribes favored one God over others, perhaps seeing a single God of their ancestors as the one true God. There seems to be evidence for both monotheistic and polytheistic religion amongst the Ancient heathen tribes.
Traditionally a heathen child might be named after a particular God that the family was devoted to - hence we have names like Thorulf (Thor Wolf) and Frobjorn (Frey Bear). Today Odinists may often adopt a particular God or Goddess as a patron deity whom they favor - by extension an entire kindred may be Devoted primarily to one deity; a temple (hof) or a sacred grove (horg) may also be dedicated to one or many Gods. There is usually no judgement shown amongst Odinists because of their preference to honor one or many of the Norse Gods - only when practitioners try to mix Odinism with Christianity or with other grossly conflicting religious elements is their worship frowned upon.
Mount Fagradalsfjall, Iceland (March 2021)In the Norse creation myths the worlds were created when fire and ice met in the Eternal Void called Ginnungagap - The Jotnar, some of which are Fire Giants, while others are Frost Giants, are sometimes thought to be personifications of harsh and violent forces of Nature that man must often times overcome in order to survive.
The Jotnar are a race of giants that appear in Norse mythology.
These giants are often depicted as being at war with the Gods, although in some scenarios Giantesses bore children from the Gods (Thor for example is the son of Odin and a giantess named Jord) - the Goddesses however are always depicted as being strongly opposed to sleeping with a male Jotun.
These accounts of Giants and Gods are sometimes seen as Ancient euhemerized records of a strained relationship between Neanderthal man and Nordic Homo Sapiens. Some older Scandinavian history books trace the lineage of their people to a race of "godjotnar" or "good giants". It has been discovered through science and archaeology that the Neanderthals were red-headed, blue-eyed, and much larger and stronger built than modern man - most people of European descent contain about 2-3% Neanderthal DNA.
The giants of Norse mythology are also interpreted Theosophically as malignant forces of Nature that must be overcome in order to achieve higher stages of evolution.
Loki is a complicated figure in Norse Mythology: He is said to be of Jotunn stock, but because his looks are rather handsome in comparison to the other Giants, he was assumed to be less malicious and was therefore accepted into Asgard (the home of the Gods) where he became a blood brother to Odin.
Throughout the Edda, Loki shows his true colors by playing tricks on the Gods and bringing trouble upon them - for this he is often thought of as a 'trickster' god; However, in some cases he becomes the key figure in helping the Gods solve a major problem - so his ambivalent nature has made him difficult for many scholars to classify.
Loki gives birth ("like a woman") to a brood of monsters that become the enemies of the Gods - and yet he also gives birth to an eight legged horse named Sleipnir that Odin takes as his own horse and is considered the best of all horses.
Because of Loki's ambiguous, deceptive, and even gender-bending nature he is seen by the Gods as a source of dischord, perversion, and mistrust, but also at times as a source of amusement and even help.
There are things we encounter that often seem to run contrary to our sense of what's good and normal in the World - Loki possibly represents the embodiment of that.
Many times Odin wishes to rid himself of Loki, but he must refrain in order to honor his blood oath to always provide a seat for Loki at his table.
Loki ultimately hatches a scheme that causes the death of Odin's son Baldur, for which Odin has Loki imprisoned in a cave where he is tortured by poisonous Adders.
Loki can be seen as a hard lesson when accepting outsiders, even if at face value they appear harmless - this is especially true in regards to swearing oaths of allegiance to such deceptive strangers.
Loki can also be seen as the element of Chaos within Nature:
Genetic mutations are thought to be random and chaotic, but these mutations can bring about changes to humans and animals that range from being useful to our survival, to deformities that are so hideously grotesque as to make even the most devout Christian question his God; Nature can also be deceptive in her own right, producing dangerous animals that lay hidden in plain sight and beautiful plants that can turn out to be deadly poison.
Man often assumes that other creatures are like himself - be they other races or other animals - but is then surprised when he realizes this is not so! Loki is the embodiment of this ugly reality, take him as you wish!
A belief in an afterlife can be found in Odinism, but it is generally not stressed or emphasized, as are the "after worldly" motivations of the Christian faith in which the goal of living seems to be not living, but dying. Historical accounts of the heathen afterlife oscillate between a belief that a person will be reincarnated through their own kin, and a belief that the soul traverses to the Halls of the Gods - the most famous of these halls being Valhalla, the Hall of Odin -the Warrior's Paradise - where those slain in battle will fight eternally at Odin's side by day and at night they will feast on Pork and Mead, regenerating and recovering from their wounds before setting out the next day to fight another day until the end of days...
Now I doubt that anyone truly believes that if we were to die in battle we will go play "dungeons and dragons" in the sky for all eternity - I don't believe that's what these myths are about; Most likely the Halls of the Gods are metaphors for Karmic cycles of Reincarnation - for example: a warrior's Soul, by virtue of his "fighting spirit", his individual Karma, or "Wyrd" as this concept is called in Norse, will ensure that he is born into the life of a warrior each and every time he is born into the physical plane - be this on earth or perhaps even in other worlds. In this view, each God and their respective Hall corresponds to a unique set of Spiritual and Karmic circumstances.
Reincarnation, or transmigration of the soul as it is sometimes called, is a stock belief of many Ancient Indo-European Religions and as such is one of the oldest afterlife beliefs of the Western world; however, because the alien doctrine of Christianity and the accompanying belief in a "Heaven" has become the primary belief in the West for so long, ideas of Reincarnation have ironically been viewed by many westerners as seeming too "foreign" or even fruity. Because of a relative decline in Christianity and a rise in "alternative religions", the idea of Reincarnation is once again gaining traction and acceptance in the Western world.
The Ancient Indo Europeans held a belief that the Soul returns through the Kin Folk; It was believed that an elder could see his deceased Father or Grandfather return in the eyes of his own descendants - hence An old German word for children "enkel" literally means "little Ancestor"
The research of Dr. Ian Stevensson offers very compelling evidence that Reincarnation is not just a belief but perhaps a Scientifically accepted fact!
Furthermore, accounts in Norse Mythology tell of a transitional "underworld" called Hel, but not the grim and fiery Hell of the Christians, but a Hel full of lush meadows, wind swept trees, and babbling brooks; This account of an underworld is uncannily similar to modern day accounts of Near Death Experiences in which people describe going to a realm of what they describe as otherworldly beauty - Both the Norse tales and the Modern stories speak of guiding spirits that lead the souls to their next life.
In case you were wondering, the Old Norse word "Hel" was stolen by Christians to name their torturing realm of "Hell".
The Odinic belief in Reincarnation means that one can not live this life thinking that they can sneak off to some Heaven and leave the problems here on Earth for the next generation to solve - you WILL return to the world you helped create! For better or for worse we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
Odinists are typically more or less socially conservative in nature - thus traditional gender roles and traditional Western values are espoused; Because of Odinism's emphasis on conservative values, some people unfairly accuse Odinists of adopting Christian virtues - it should be understood, however, that the traditional values of our Folk, often called " Traditional Western Values", were the predominant values of Europe BEFORE Christianity was introduced, thus it was Christianity that gradually adopted many of the virtues that were indigenous to the land that it settled in and not the other way around.
The Virtues of Odinism were codified in the 1970s by the British group known as the Odinic Rite: The number 9 is considered a sacred number in Odinism, hence there are NINE Noble Virtues:
Although these Nine virtues are widely accepted by most Odinists, Some groups have criticized this codification of the Virtues either because it is thought to be an attempt to imitate christianity and etch these virtues in stone so to speak, or vice versa, because these virtues were NOT written on Ancient stone tablets they are thought to be inauthentic; However, One should ask oneself: are these good virtues? will these make me a better person? will my Folk benefit from these Virtues? If the answer is Yes, then these are worthy virtues to uphold.
Primarily Odinism differs from Christianity in that Christianity's virtue system is about "denying the self", " surrendering the will" and "trusting God" - its followers are told to be "long suffering", "turn the other cheek", " love your enemies"; Odinic Virtue on the other hand is about STRENGTH and Self Reliance - empowering the Will, strengthening one's resolve, being productive - GROWTH of the Self and the Folk.
Christians are told what NOT to do; Odinists are shown what TO DO
Where Christianity emphasises Guilt and asking for forgiveness - Odinists rejects this as being counterproductive and instead seeks to do what is Honorable. The keynote is Truth: Order overcoming chaos.
In summary of this overview of Odinism let me say that I am personally of the mind that it is humanly impossible to know the Ultimate reality of being; Even in the event of a Transcendent experience, such knowledge would still have to be filtered through the flesh and blood realm of matter that we live in if it is to have any practical application to "the real world" at all. We can perhaps glimpse a part of that higher reality, but never will our eyes see it in all its' grandeur. We can only surmise at what lies in the grand scheme of things.
Let's consider the Electromagnetic Spectrum: as a whole it is many times larger than the relatively tiny fraction of which appears to us as visible light within our eyeballs - but yet that relatively tiny visible spectrum that we ARE permitted to see is many times more RELEVANT to us on a daily basis than the rest of it which we do not see! We can use the other invisible waves for all sorts of things such as TV, radio, internet, X-ray, etc, but even these invisible waves must be transformed into to the visible or audible portion of our existence if they are to be useful to us at all!
The Visible portion of the Electromagnetic Spectrum is tiny compared to the whole.
So by way of Analogy: Whatever "God" or "Gods" there may be, whatever "supernatural" being may be responsible for our being and of all reality as we know it - this is ultimately beyond our flesh and blood to even grasp! So if we cannot even SEE or imagine this being directly, is it not largely irrelevant to our day to day living? Perhaps such "chasing after the wind" is the truly silly thing to inquire into afterall and not Odinism!
Whether the Gods of Odinism are "real" or "imaginary" is perhaps also a foolish debate; The Gods of our Ancestors are like that visible spectrum of light: They might not be the whole picture, but they bring form to something otherwise unknowable to us - we can imagine them, they look like us, they have personalities we can relate to, they have attributes we wish to aspire to! They are Wise Gods, Noble Warriors - Intelligent, Strong and Courageous - Gods that appeal to our own Nature! They are NOT like that weak pitiful man who speaks in riddles and asks us to "just have faith", to believe he is the master of the universe and go against our very INSTINCTS to become his "sheep". Our Heathen Gods that are considered "demons" in the Christian faith do not even ask us to "worship" them, they simply want us to be strong, wise and self-reliant, not down on our knees begging forgiveness for simply for being Human!
Even if our Gods are only "archetypes" that transform us and make us better men and women, whether they are "real" or "imaginary" is perhaps not for us to even know for sure - after all, even the Odinic Lore states that a river called Ifing - which means "doubt" - exists between the world of Gods and men; and indeed, there is certainly a river of doubt between Gods and men! But Odinism is a river we CAN cross! Its' virtues appeal to us rather than run contrary to our very nature - and Odinism is certainly not some blind leap of "faith", but a belief rooted in the real world.
Hubble Telescope photograph of space gas and dust thousands of light years from Earth titled: Pillars of Creation
The Ancient Indo Europeans believed in the use of idols and graven images in worship - this is because their worldview did not view the material realm as evil, but as beautiful and inspiring. When we see the image of a God we are reminded and inspired by the higher principalities and virtues which that deity represents; just as the creations of Nature are filled with spirits, so the products of our hands are also imbued with spirits. There is nothing esoteric about this, most of us can sense the degree to which a work of art is inspired or has "spirit" to it, or if it is spiritless or uninspired - sometimes we may even have differences of opinion according to what our spirit craves at the time. The European psyche is sensitive to this spirit of Art and Beauty - this is the reason the West has had such strong Art traditions in the past.
We are all familiar with the beautiful and inspiring pagan idols that survive from Ancient Greece and Rome - but a large portion of what once existed was unfortunately destroyed by Christians; worse still, such Christian zealots of the past have seen to it that only a few crude remnants of the Germanic heathen idols remain to this day - that's why few depictions of the Norse Gods dating to Ancient times can be found.
Boniface fells the Donar oak Color lithograph after a painting by Heinrich Maria von Hess
Christians destroyed countless Pagan Idols and Worship sites across Europe during thier conquests.
So strong is the European instinct to Idolatry and graven images that after destroying the idols and images of the heathens, the hypocritical Christians of Europe allowed themselves this one exception to their Middle Eastern god's commandments and created their own otherwise beautiful works of Art, despite their being almost exclusively Christian themed; However, that second commandment would eventually rear its ugly head...it is estimated that the late 15th century Christian zealots known as the "iconoclasts" destroyed as much as three-quarters(!) of the (almost exclusively Christian) Art that existed in Northern Europe at that time!
"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything in heaven above, or that is in earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" - the petty words of a jealous desert sprite; But just Imagine, all the Art and culture of our Ancestors DESTROYED because of an idea that was FOREIGN to our people!
The aim of Grotti Mill Productions is to continue the Heathen tradition of creating such "forbidden" Idols and images. We believe that the continuation and evolution of Traditional Western Art is central to the evolution of our Folk and our culture (Kultur)
Be sure to browse our online catalog for High Quality, Beautifully crafted "likenesses" of things in "Heaven", on Earth and from the Sea! These are original works of Art produced by Grotti Mill Productions. Each image in the catalog also has an accompanying text with interesting info about the subject matter.