The Odinic Rite (OR) is a religious organisation practicing a form of Northern Indo European religion termed Odinism after the chief god of Norse mythology, Odin. It is a reconstructionist religious organization focusing on Germanic paganism, Germanic mythology, Norse paganism, and Anglo-Saxon paganism, whom some consider to be part of a Neo-völkisch movement.
Current research suggests that the term ‘’Odinism’’ is believed to have been first used in 1822 in ‘Universal Geography: Or A Description of All Parts of the World, on a New Plan, According to the Great Natural Divisions of the Globe, Volume 1’ by Conrad Malte-Brun, in 1823 in the book, ‘The Habitations of Cruelty; Or, A Picture of Heathenism’, published by Knight & Lacey, pages 271, and xvi. Later in 1829 in ‘The Misfortunes of Elphin’ by Thomas Love Peacock, and in 1830 in the book, 'Historic Survey of German Poetry: Interspersed with Various Translations, Volume 1' by William Taylor, page 32. Most famously, it was used in 1840 by the Scottish writer, historian, and philosopher, Thomas Carlyle. It featured in his book, ‘On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History’, which was published by James Fraser, London, in 1841 and consisted of a collection of six lectures held in May 1840. Odinism is mentioned three times in the publication: ‘Lecture 1. (May 5th, 1840) - The Hero as Divinity. Odin. Paganism: Scandinavian Mythology’, ‘Lecture 4. (May 15th, 1840) - The Hero as Priest. Luther; Reformation: Knox; Puritanism’, and ‘Summary and Index. Summary, Lecture 1. The Hero as Divinity. Odin. Paganism: Scandinavian Mythology’.
It was later used, and often mistakenly referred to as being coined by, Orestes Brownson in 1848, in his 1848 Letter to Protestants. The term was re-introduced in the late 1930s by Alexander Rud Mills in Australia with his First Anglecyn Church of Odin and his book, The Call of Our Ancient Nordic Religion. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Else Christensen's Odinist Study Group and later the Odinist Fellowship brought the term into usage in North America.
Today the Odinic Rite defines Odinism as the modern day expression of the ancient religions which grew and evolved with the Indo-European peoples who settled in Northern Europe and came to be known as "Germanic". The Odinic Rite shuns such descriptions as "Viking religion" or "Asatru" insisting that the Viking era was just a very small period in the history and evolution of the faith.
In 1973 John Gibbs-Bailey (known as "Hoskuld") and John Yeowell (known as "Stubba") founded the Committee for the Restoration of the Odinic Rite or Odinist Committee in England. In 1980 the organisation changed its name to The Odinic Rite after it was believed that it had gained enough significant interest in the restoration of the Odinic faith.
In 1988 the Odinic Rite became the first polytheistic religious organisation to be granted "Registered Charity" status in the UK. While the charitable status did not bring much benefit to the organisation, they felt that it was a victory in their fight to have Odinism taken seriously.
In 1989 Yeowell resigned as Director of the OR's governing body, the Court of Gothar. The Court then unanimously elected Heimgest as its Director and he was officially installed in this position on 23 April 1989 at the White Horse Stone in Kent. He was professed by Freya Aswynn. Prior to his involvement with the Odinic Rite Heimgest had belonged to a small group known as the Heimdal League, a closed group which disbanded in the mid 1980s. Some members of this group joined Heimgest in moving to the OR as they considered it had "the potential to best present the ancestral religion of Odinism to the modern world". Heimgest remains the Director of the Court of Gothar.
John Yeowell resigned from the Court of Gothar entirely in 1991 and left the Odinic Rite.
Also in 1991, an expelled member of the OR, Ralph (Ingvar) Harrison set up a rival Odinic Rite using the post office box name "Edda" as opposed to the official group's box name of "Runic" which is still in use by the OR today. However, the Odinist Fellowship in the UK was registered in 1988.
In 1996 Yeowell was accepted back into the official OR. Shortly after this, Harrison asked Else Christensen if he could rename his group the Odinist Fellowship (even though Harrison had openly registered as the Odinist Fellowship in 1988). This request was declined as Else was a close personal friend of Heimgest, however the group continued to use the name and the Edda post office box.
The OR has national branches in France (ORF), North America (ORV, 1997) and the Netherlands (ORN, 2006) and individual members spread over many other countries. The Odinic Rite has legal status in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States.
The OR website has a disclaimer to the effect that they are politically neutral and that members who involve themselves in political activity do so as private individuals not as representatives of the Odinic Rite.
Members of the Odinic Rite are encouraged to live their lives according to the Nine Noble Virtues and the Nine Charges which were "codified from The Hávamál and The Sigrdrífomál (poems from the Elder Edda) in the early 1970s"
The Book of Blotar
The Book of Blotar is a book of rituals published by the Odinic Rite for the purposes of celebrating Odinism.
In popular culture
- Neopaganism in the UK
- Germanic Neopaganism
- Ásatrú in the United States
- Stephen McNallen
- Asatru Folk Assembly
- Ásatrú Alliance
- White Horse Stone
- The Works of Orestes A. Brownson: Containing the Second Part of the Political Writings, ed. Henry Francis Brownson, T. Nourse (1884), p. 257
- Mills, Alexander Rud (1957). The Call of Our Ancient Nordic Religion. Northern World Pub.
- Odinism - A Defining Moment. A talk by Hengest Thorsson, later published in Odinic Rite Briefing, issue 113, 2009
- Pagan Resurrection by Richard Rudgley(2006)p.240
- Pagan Resurrection by Richard Rudgley(2006)p.239
- personal conversation with Heimgest
- Odinic Rite FAQ - Does the Odinic Rite take a political viewpoint?
- Nine Noble Virtues and Nine Charges from the Odinic Rite web site
- www.fluxeuropa.com Sol Invictus, the Blade, review