"Odinism" is one of the names for revived germanic paganism.
The term "Odinism" was coined by Orestes Brownson in 1848,
via his book A revival of Odinism, or the old Scandinavian Heathenism.
The term was re-introduced in the late 1930s by Alexander Rud Mills in Australia,
via his First Anglecyn Church of Odin, and his book The Call of Our Ancient Nordic Religion.
The Eddic poem Völuspá (the prophecy of the seeress) reveals the mysteries of norse-pagan cosmology. According to the poem, between Muspelheim (the land of fire) and Niflheim (the land of ice) was an empty space called Ginnungigap. The fire and ice moved toward eachother; when they collided, the universe came into being.
In order of creation, first were the giants, then the gods, and, finally, humankind.
The norse gods include:
- Odin (The most popular of the gods, both in present time and the past, he values wisdom over all else, to the point of sacrificing his own eye for knowledge. He takes half those slain in battle to his hall to prepare for Ragnarök. Wednesday, or "Woden's Day", is named after him.)
- Thor (Hot-tempered and mighty goddor of thunder. He is large and red-bearded, carrying a massive hammer named Mjolnir, which he throws at enemies, striking them with lightning. Thursday, or "Thor's Day", is named after him.)
- Tyr (Brave goddor of war, who risked and lost his hand so that the gods could bind the fearsome wolf Fenrir. Once was the most pularly worshiped god until he was overtaken by Odin. Tuesday, or "Tyr's Day", is named after him.)
- Baldr (Also commonly known as Balder, he was Odin's son and heir. He was loved by all and perfect in every way for his beautiful appearance, wisdom, and gracious matter. It was said that none could question his judgements. He was killed as a result of the treachery of Loki, but will return at the end of the world.)
- Freyja (Goddess of love, fertility, sex, attraction, and war. Daughter of Njord. Because of this list of attributes, she's largely considered the most popular of the goddesses of the Norse pantheon. She is also referred to as the queen of the elves and the leader of the Valkyries, and she takes one-half of those slain in battle to her hall, putting her on equal footing to Odin in this regard.)
- Vidar (Another son of Odin, he is the goddor of silence and revenge. It is his destiny to revenge his father by slaying Fenrir, either by stepping on the beast-wolf's lower jaw and tearing him by the mouth with his raw power, or by using his sword against the heart of the wolf.)
- Bragi (Another son of Odin, he is the goddor of poetry. A large part of his history is largely unavailable in modern times. However, it is known that he was very gifted in speech and storytelling, so much so that an eloquent person would be called a bragr-man or -woman.)
- Heimdall (The guardian and goddor of light. He is the son of nine different mothers. His keen senses allow him to hear the grass grow and to see to the end of the world. He guards bifrost, the rainbow bridge to Asgard, ready to blow in his horn when danger approaches.)
- Frigg (Goddess of marriage, motherhood, and household management. According to Odin: "Only Frigg knows the future, but discloses it to no one.". She is the wife of Odin, mother of Baldr, and sister of Njord. Friday, or "Frigg's Day", is named for her.)
- Sif (The wife of Thor, her golden hair grows in like normal natural hair, but was actually created by dwarves. As a prank, Loki cut her hair off, which angered Thor. He made Loki promise to replace it, which he managed to do with the help of the dwarf Dvalin.)
- Njord (Goddor of the fertile lands on the seacoast, as well as seamanship and sailing. He is a Vanir, a different kind of god than the Asir, and is the father of Freyr and Freyja.)
- Freyr (Goddor of fertility, peace, and pleasure. Son of Njord. He falls in love with a beautiful giantess, and gave his sword, which was so well-constructed that it fought by itself, in order to convince his foot-page, Skírnir, to romance the giantess for him. This decision will have dire consequences at the Battle of Ragnarök, when Freyr will be defeated by Surt.)
- Idun (Goddess of youth, and wife of Bragi. She keeps the gods young by giving them magic apples that extend their lives. Without these apples, the gods- Aesir and Vanir alike, would age, wither, and die as normal humans do.)
Other important entities include:
- Loki (A mischievous entity who likes to play tricks on the gods, he is frost giant by birth. Loki was a source of constant angst for the gods. His habitual trouble making landed him in some rough spots. Conversely, Loki was also a great deal of help to the gods on numerous occasions. It was Loki after all who brought several important artifacts to Asgard (including Mjollnir and Draupnir). As a result of his treacherous acts that lead to the death of Baldr, he was bound to a rock. He will lead the armies of Jotun (giants) against the gods in Ragnarök, the final battle.)
- Fenrir (A monstrous wolf that is the son of Loki and the giantess Angrboda. Fenrir has two sons of his own, Hati and Skoll, who constantly chase the horses that move the sun across the sky, as well as pursuing the moon. He is bound to a rock by Gleipnir a ribbon made of the sound of a cat's footsteps, a woman's beard, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and a bird's spittle. The binding of Fenrir cost Tyr his hand. At the battle of Ragnarök, he will break loose and devour Odin, but will be slain by Vidar.)
- Skaði (A mountain giant who married Njord. The marriage wasn't happy, as both were completely different, so they separated.)
Ethics and Afterlife
In terms of ethics, members are taught to be "brave and generous". Modern Odinists model their life according to the "Nine Noble Virtues".
- Self Reliance
- Strength is better than weakness
- Courage is better than cowardice
- Joy is better than guilt
- Honour is better than dishonour
- Freedom is better than slavery
- Kinship is better than alienation
- Realism is better than dogmatism
- Vigor is better than lifelessness
- Ancestry is better than universalism
The Odin Brotherhood teaches "strength over weakness, pride over humility, and knowledge over faith". Members honor the gods by fostering "thought, courage, honor, light, and beauty".
The Odinist afterlife has several possible destinations. Which destination one goes to depends upon how one has lived and died. The most esteemed people go to Valhalla, and are brought there by warrior-maidens called valkyries.
Osred, an Australian Odinist, has written an article on Odinist beliefs about Life After Death.
Some Rites of Odinism
- Blót is the term for the historical Norse sacrifice in honour of the gods. Odinist blóts are often celebrated outdoors. Food and drink may be offered, and most of this will be consumed by the participants.
- Sumbel (also spelled symbel) is a Norse drinking rite in which an intoxicating drink (usually mead or ale) is passed around an assembled table. At each passing of the drink, participants make a short speech, a toast, and an oath. Oaths made during this rite are considered binding upon the individuals making them.
- Berserkergangr is a form of religious ecstasy, associated with Odin, a god of war, magic, and poetry.
- Reading the Runes. Tacitus, in Germania, describes how the ancient Germans cut branches from a fruit-bearing tree, and marked the branches with symbols, called runes. Calling upon the gods, the practitioner casts the branches randomly on a white cloth. New-Age Asatru use the runes as a method of divination. More traditional practitioners, such as the members of the Odin Brotherhood, claim the runes are connected with magic, but only indirectly with prophecy. Members of the Odin Brotherhood use the runes not to tell the future, but to summon a dead person so that he will reveal the future. That is how Odin himself uses the runes in as in Havamal, verse 156.
Chadwick, H. M. The Cult of Othin. Cambridge, 1899.
Coulter, James Hjuka. Germanic Heathenry. 2003. ISBN 1410765857
Gundarsson, Kvedulf. Our Troth. 2006. ISBN 1419635980
Hollander, Lee M. The Poetic Edda. Austin, 1986. ISBN 0292764995
Mirabello, Mark. The Odin Brotherhood. 5th edition. Oxford, England, 2003. ISBN 1869928717
Mortensen, Karl. A Handbook of Norse Mythology. 2003. ISBN 048643219X
Paxson, Diana L. Essential Asatru. 2006. ISBN 0806527080
Puryear, Mark. The Nature of Asatru. 2006. ISBN 0595389643
Shetler, Greg. Living Asatru. 2003. ISBN 1591099110
Storyteller, Ragnar. Odin's Return. Payson,Arizona, 1995. (pdf. file of a novella based on the Odin Brotherhood story)
Sturluson, Snorri. Ynglinga Saga.
Sturluson, Snorri. Prose Edda. Mineola, New York, 2006. ISBN 0486451518
This Is Odinism. 1974. ISBN 095046130X
Yeowell, John. Book of Blots. 1991. ISBN 0950461350
Podcasts on Odinism/Asatru
Articles of Interest
List of Some Odinist/Asatru Organizations in the World
- Eastern Europe
- Iceland / Scandinavia
- Asatrofællesskabet ("Asatru-fellowship"), Denmark (since 2003)
- Ásatrúarfélagið ("Asatru-fellowship"), Iceland (since 1972)
- Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost ("Asatru-fellowship Bifrost"), Norway (since 1996)
- Forn Sidr ("Old Tradition"), Denmark (since 2003)
- Nätverket Forn Sed ("Network of the Old Tradition"), Sweden (since 2003)
- Sveriges Asatrosamfund ("Sweden's Asatru-community"), Sweden (since 1994)
- North America
- Círculo Odinista Español
- Circulo Odinista Europeo.(since 1981.)
- Gotland Forn Sed (since 1994)
- Fairneis Anafilh - Iberian Forn Sed
- Clan Falkon Galicia Alianza del Aguila Visigoda España
- Foro Clan Falkon Foro sobre Odinismo Visigoth en España
- Alianza del Aguila Visigoda en Barcelona
- Alianza del Aguila Visigoda en Asturias
- South America