Odinism, a type of Germanic neopaganism, is a religion focused on honoring Odin, Thor, Freyr, Freyja, Heimdall, and other deities in the pre-Christian religion of Scandinavia and paganism of greater Germania.
Some adherents will use "Odinism" as synonymous with Ásatrú, others will reject an equivalence between the two terms, whilst others use it synonymously, interchangeably, and also debunk those that have a conviction the two are completely separate. Some who use the term Odinism see no difference between the two terms, but as Odinism is historically established, other modern terms have met with limited success. In addition, some see it as synonymous with Wotanism and Wodenism also, whilst others object to this. Historically, early revivals of Germanic paganism, particularly Alexander Rud Mills ' First Anglecyn Church of Odin in Australia, focused on Odin, and in North America in the early 1970s, Else Christensen and Stephen McNallen named their revivalist movements Odinism and Ásatrú respectively.
Many Odinists are "hard polytheists", and they believe that the gods and goddesses are real beings with distinct personalities, whilst others see them as different aspects of nature or as Jungian archetypes.
According to social scientists, Odinism is "a form of neopaganism that is trying to reconstruct ancient European pre-Christian religions."
- 1 History and name
- 2 Odinic Rite
- 3 Odinic Rite of Australia
- 4 Odinist Fellowship (US)
- 5 Odinist Fellowship (UK)
- 6 Odin Brotherhood
- 7 Odinist Community of Spain — Ásatrú
- 8 Odinic Rite of Argentina - Rito Odinista de Argentina
- 9 Wodanesdag Press (Hyatt)
- 10 Wotanism (Lane)
- 11 Comunità Odinista (Italy)
- 12 Odinism in France (L'Odinisme)
- 13 Ásatrúarfélagið
- 14 In the media
- 15 See also
- 16 References
History and name
Current research suggests that the term "Odinism" was 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 also used by Orestes Brownson in his 1848 Letter to Protestants. It 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. In the UK, Odinic Rite has specifically identified themselves as "Odinists" since the 1970s.
The term "Odinism" is sometimes associated with racialist Nordic ideology, as opposed to "Asatru" which may or may not refer to racialist or "folkish" ideals. Although, with the introduction of the concept of Metagenetics by Asatru Gothi Stephen A. McNallen, some view it that way. As defined by Goodrick-Clarke (2002), Nordic racial paganism is synonymous with the Odinist movement (including some who identify as Wotanist). He describes it as a "spiritual rediscovery of the Aryan ancestral gods...intended to embed the white races in a sacred worldview that supports their tribal feeling", and expressed in "imaginative forms of ritual magic and ceremonial forms of fraternal fellowship".
A union of the closely related movements of Odinism and American Asatru as pioneered by Stephen A. McNallen was attempted with an International Asatru-Odinic Alliance in 1997, which was however dissolved in 2002.
Whilst many of those that use the term "Odinism" associate with groups such as the Odinic Rite, etc., there are equally as many that do not associate with any group at all.
Odinic native faith groups at times intertwine Odinism with Germanic Vedism, much like Rodnovery is with Slavic Vedism, and sometimes incorporates elements of Hinduism and other Indo-European religions.
In Russia there is a movement of left hand path Odinists who focus on the search for the true self and utilise the darkside of Odinism. This group is headed by Askr Svarte, and in the UK by Nikarev Leshy.
Mead is also often mentioned in Odinist writings and mythology, sometimes being referred to as "the mead of inspiration". This has led some Odinists to acknowledge that alcoholism is prevalent within the Odinist community.
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. In 1991, an expelled member of the OR, Ingvar Harrison set up a rival Odinic Rite.
Odinic Rite has national branches in France (ORF), North America (ORV, 1997) and the Netherlands (ORN, 2006). A separate organisation formed from 1972-1994 is the Odinic Rite of Australia  A German chapter of Odinic Rite was founded in 1995, but this group renamed itself Verein für germanisches Heidentum (VfGH) and severed all organisational ties with Odinic Rite in 2006.
Odinic Rite of Australia
The Odinic Rite of Australia was founded between 1972 and 1994 as an independent organisation, after over a century of Odinism in the southern continent, culminating in the works of Rud Mills in the 1930s and beyond. For more information, see the ORA's background at ORA's history.
The Odinic Rite of Australia in 2011 published the "Melbourne Creed" of Odinism, which is a 9-point statement of belief, "An Odinist Creed." The creed is designed to suggest beliefs that many modern heathens may share.
The Odinic Rite of Australia has had legal status with the Australian government since 1995, and is currently seeking recognition to supply Pagan religious celebrants for government-recognised legal marriages. In December 2014 it published the authorised second edition of Stubba's "Book of Blots", originally published by the Odinic Rite in 1991.
Odinist Fellowship (US)
Initiated by Else Christensen and her husband Alex, the Odinist Study Group was renamed the Odinist Fellowship in 1971, around the time of the death of Alex Christensen. Else Christensen's relocation to Florida, US. came in the 1980s.
For many years, The Odinist Fellowship published a periodical called The Odinist out of Canada and Crystal River, Florida. Additionally, her travels included friendly contact with other groups, such as the large Arizona Kindred (where she met up with the Kindred's "Norsemen of Midgard" motorcycle club) and the Steve McNallen's Asatru Folk Assembly. Since Else died in 2005, her Odinist Fellowship dissolved, with much of the membership transferring to the Odinic Rite. The last known chapter of the US Odinist Fellowship is based in Florida, and is called the Kindred Folk.
Odinist Fellowship (UK)
The British-based Odinist Fellowship was established by Ralph Harrison in 1988 and is unaffiliated with the US organization founded by Christensen. The British Odinist Fellowship is registered under English law as a religious charity.
The aim of the Odinist Fellowship, according to its constitution is "to practise, promote and propagate Odinism. By Odinism is meant the original, indigenous form of Pagan, polytheistic religion and spiritual beliefs, practised by the ancestors of the English and related northern European peoples, as embodied in the Eddas and as they have found expression in the wisdom and in the historical experience of those peoples." The Odinist Fellowship, according to its website, claims that Odinism is England's "native and national faith".
Odinists practise a nine-fold calendar and the Odinist Fellowship's liturgy of worship and sacrifices are published in "The Book of Rites". A notable achievement of the British Odinist Fellowship was to gain legal recognition for the Odinist religion in the case of "Holden v Royal Mail PLC(2006)", when a ruling was made to declare that Odinism is to be recognized as a religion for the purposes of anti-discrimination legislation.
According to its website, the Odinist Fellowship is planning to "institute a network of [Odinist] temples in every [English] county, and in every major town and city up and down the land". The first of these was inaugurated in June 2014 when a 1556 Tudor chapel in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, purchased by the Odinist Fellowship, was consecrated as the first Odinist Temple in England for over a thousand years.
The website describes Odinism as follows: "Odinism is a polytheistic religion. We believe in and honour the life-giving and bountiful gods and goddesses of the Odinic pantheon, whom we refer to collectively as the High Gods of Asgard, or as the Æsir and Vanir. Our gods are true gods, divine, living, spiritual entities, endowed with power and intelligence, able and willing to intervene in the course of Nature and of human lives. It behooves us to seek their goodwill and sucour through prayer and sacrifice. But the gods do not require us to abase and humble ourselves; they do not seek to make of us craven slaves. Odinists therefore do not bow or kneel or kow-tow to the gods, but address them proudly like free, upstanding men and women. Odinists regard our gods, not as our masters, but as firm friends and powerful allies."
In a book published with Holmes Publishing Group in 1992, and now in its sixth edition with Mandrake of Oxford, Mark Mirabello, a British-educated history professor who lectures in the United States, claimed to have been in contact with a secret society known as the Odin Brotherhood. Mirabello claims that the Odin Brotherhood preserves genuine traditions of pre-Christian paganism in Britain. He claims that the group was founded in 1421.
Professor Graham Harvey, writing in 1995, had this opinion: "A book called The Odin Brotherhood has been circulating which claims to be a record of contacts (in Britain and elsewhere) between Dr. Mark Mirabello and a secret society called the Odin Brotherhood. Whilst I have received enigmatic letters claiming to be from members of the group I have been unable to check the veracity of Mirabello's claims. No other group that I have talked to (including one that was named in a "Brotherhood" letter as a contact) has any more knowledge of the group beyond reading the book. Most doubt its existence."
In 2013, The Way of the Odin Brotherhood by Jack Wolf of Canada was published. The book details Mr. Wolf's own contact with the Brotherhood and provides additional details on the group's beliefs, legends, and practices. The book is published by Mandrake of Oxford.
Mr. Wolf's book contains new revelations about the Brotherhood, including the suggestion that the gods, who visit here often, are actually living in the past. According to the Brotherhood, the entire time line of past, present, and future is accessible to the gods.
Odinist Community of Spain — Ásatrú
There is some Germanic neopaganism found in Spain, including the Odinist Community of Spain — Ásatrú (COE) founded as Circulo Odinista Español in 1981. The COE was recognized by the Spanish government as a religion, allowing them to perform "legally binding civil ceremonies", such as marriages. COE is the fourth Odinist/Asatru religious organization in the world to be recognized with official status, after those in Iceland, Norway and Denmark.
Odinic Rite of Argentina - Rito Odinista de Argentina
There is also an Odinic Rite of Argentina (Rito Odinista de Argentina) that has no association with the Odinic Rite in England.
Wodanesdag Press (Hyatt)
Wodanesdag Press (wodanesdag.com) is a minor independent publisher in the United States, specialized in "Ásatrú/Odinism". It was established by E. Max Hyatt a.k.a. Edred Wodanson (1948-2010) in 1993.
E. Max Hyatt (Edred Wodanson) is best known for his book, Asatru--The Hidden Fortress.
Wodanesdag Press also ran an "Outreach Program of Wodan's Kindred" (odin.org). Identifying their religion as "Asatru/Odinism", the organization's FAQ comments on the question What is the difference between “Asatru” and “Odinism”?
- "[...] in both the U.S. and Europe many hearty souls were awakening to the ancient call of their Ancestral gods and goddesses. Some adopted the name Asatru to identify their beliefs, while others used the name Odinism (Odin being the Alfather). Many believe that the two names are interchangeable, while others disagree. It has been noted by some writers on the subject that Asatruar (followers of Asatru) seem to be more spiritually oriented, while Odinists seem to be more political in their views. While this does hold true in some cases, it cannot be applied to all. There are several Odinist organizations that have no political interests, whatsoever. At the same time there are many Folk who go by the name Asatruar, and are very political. All of this said, it is true that a large number of Odinists believe that the various gods and goddesses of the Northern pantheon are simply representations of the various aspects of Nature. Whereas, most Asatruar believe that while this Nature-aspect is true, in another sense the gods are also real spiritual beings, with unique lives separate from this Earth (i.e. in Asgard). "
David Lane (1938-2007) founded a white nationalist form of Germanic neopaganism, which he called "Wotanism". In an essay entitled Wotanism (Odinism), Lane makes clear that he chose the name in contrast to the existing term Odinism by universalists,
- "I first chose the name Wotanism over Odinism. First because W.O.T.A.N. makes a perfect acronym for Will Of The Aryan Nation. Secondly because he was called Wotan on the European continent and only called Odin in Scandinavia. Therefore Wotan appeals to the genetic memory of more of our ancestors. And finally because a split had to be made with the game players, deceivers and universalists who had usurped the name Odin."
Comunità Odinista (Italy)
Established in 1994, the Comunità Odinista is an independent organization of Odinists in Italy.
Odinism in France (L'Odinisme)
Les Fils d'Odin (The Sons of Odin) are Odinists in France.
The Asatru Association (Ásatrúarfélagið) is an organisation in Iceland. The High Priest of the organisation, Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, views Asatru mythology as "poetic metaphors and a manifestation of the forces of nature and human psychology." The membership of the organisation as of February 2015[update] was 2400. The first Asatru temple where worshipers can carry out their religious rituals is being built in Iceland.
According to the BBC, the principles of Ásatrúarfélagið "are non-authoritarian and decentralised, with no sacred text or official founder. Its philosophy promotes tolerance and individual liberty. It costs nothing to join and is open to all irrespective of race, cultural background, gender or sexuality."
In the media
- Odinism in West Yorkshire, BBC News, November 25, 2005
- Norse mythology and its (dubious) links with modern-day extremists, The Independent, October 3, 2006
- When Nazis went wyrd, The Independent, November 26, 2006
- Ásatrú in the United States
- Stephen McNallen
- Wodanesdag Press
- Article on Odinismo in the Italian Wikipedia
- Asatru' - The Hidden Fortress by E. Max Hyatt (Edred Wodanson) - updated 2009 edition Wodanesdag Press ISBN 0973842326 and Mark Mirabello. The Odin Brotherhood. Mandrake of Oxford.ISBN 1869928717
- Odinism: The Religion of Our Germanic Ancestors in the Modern World by Wyatt Kaldenberg. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011. ISBN 1461003326, Folkish Odinism. by Wyatt Kaldenberg, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013. ISBN 1492297348, and Casper Odinson Crowell, Mrs. Linda Crowell Vor Forn Sidr: (Our Ancient Religion) Vinland Kindred Publishing. 2012. ISBN 0985476001
- Puryear, Mark: The Nature of Asatru, pages 111-112, The Norroena Society, 2006
- Jameson, Osted: Odinism, present, past and future, page 4, Renewal Publications, 2010.
- Ingessunu, Wulf, ‘Wulf: The Collected Writings of an English Wodenist’, Black Front Press, 2014.
- *Kaplan, Jeffrey. 1996. "The Reconstruction of the Asatru and Odinist Traditions." In Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft, edited by James R. Lewis, State University of New York Press.
- Mark Mirabello. The Odin Brotherhood. 5th ed. London: Mandrake of Oxford, 2003, pp. 27-32.
- Mark Puryear. The Nature of Asatru: An Overview of the Ideals and Philosophy of the Indigenous Religion of Northern Europe.iUniverse ISBN 0595389643, 2006
- Dobratz, Betty (June 2001). "The Role of Religion in the Collective Identity of the White Racialist Movement". Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 40 (2): 287–301. doi:10.1111/0021-8294.00056.
- George Waring, Ceramic Art in Remote Ages; John B. Day, London; 1874. p. 12
- 5 articles linked on the importance of the Swastika within Odinism and here and another here, and here. Also see the books Creed of Iron, Temple of Wotan, Wotan's Holy Rites & Ritual: Book of Blotar, Odinic Mythology part 1 and 2
- Jameson, Osred; 'Odinism: Present, Past and Future', 2010. Page 192. ISBN 978-1-4457-6816-8
- The Works of Orestes A. Brownson: Containing the Second Part of the Political Writings, ed. Henry Francis Brownson, T. Nourse (1884), p. 257
- Mills, A. Rudd. "The Call of Our Ancient Nordic Religion". Archived from the original on March 27, 2008. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (2002). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-3124-4. (Paperback, 2003. ISBN 0-8147-3155-4.) p. 257.
- Holley, Jeffrey (aka Heimgest), 'Presenting the Truth: Correcting the inaccuracies and falsehoods of Valgard Murray's Deposition', Odinic Rite. See also www.odinic-rite.org/Valgard-deposition.pdf
- Krishnji, Stari Sloveni, Staroslovenska mitologija, religija i istorija. www.starisloveni.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-28.
- Michael Strmiska. "Modern Paganism in World Cultures". Chapter Six: The Revival of Ukrainian Native Faith by Adrian Ivakhiv. pp. 209–239.
- "The Mead of Inspiration". The Odinic Rite. Archived from the original on 6 January 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
- Pagan Resurrection by Richard Rudgley(2006)p.240
- asatru-online.de; the organization does not now identify as "Odinist", instead describing its religion as Germanisches Heidentum (German for "Germanic paganism") while recognizing Asatru as "designation or short form for the renewal of Germanic paganism in widespread use today" (wird heute weithin als Bezeichnung oder Kurzform für das erneuerte germanische Heidentum verwendet).
- The Creed may be read at: Odinist Creed
- Notice concerning the Odinic Rite absorbing the US Odinist Fellowship after Christensen's retirement
- Charity Registration for the UK Odinist Fellowship
- See http://www.odinistfellowship.co.uk/
- Mark Mirabello. The Odin Brotherhood. 6th edition, Oxford: Mandrake of Oxford, 2014, ISBN 1-906958-63-7
- Stephen E. Adkins. Encyclopedia of Right-Wing Extremism in Modern American History. ABC-CLIO, 2011, p. 172. ISBN 1-59884-350-8
- Michael Streeter. Behind Closed Doors: The Power and Influence of Secret Societies. New Holland Publishers Uk Ltd. 2008. pgs 143-5, 258. ISBN 1-84537-937-3
- Jeffrey Kaplan. Radical Religion in America: Millenarian Movements from the Far Right to the Children of Noah. Syracuse University Press. 1997. ISBN 0-8156-0396-7 footnote 26 in page 196
- Charlotte Hardman and Graham Harvey. Paganism Today: Wiccans, Druids, the Goddess and Ancient Earth Traditions for the Twenty-First Century. Thorsons. 1995. p. 43. ISBN 0-7225-3233-4
- See Author Web Site for The Way of the Odin Brotherhood
- Jack Wolf . The Way of the Odin Brotherhood. Mandrake of Oxford. 2013. ISBN 978-1-906958-53-4
- Jack Wolf. The Way of the Odin Brotherhood
- * Ernust García (2015),Encuentro con Odin: Un Ensayo Sobre el Destino, Biblioteca de Estudios Odinistas, ISBN 978-1-5085-4474-6 (Spanish)
- Register of the minority religions of the Spanish Ministry of Justice
- My Father’s Story - Courage, Wisdom, and Kindness, by Freya Hyatt (odin.org)
- online copy at mourningtheancient.com
- Les Fils d'Odin Web Site
- "Iceland to build first temple to Norse gods since Viking age". Reykjavik: Reuters; The Guardian. 2 February 2015. Archived from the original on 2 February 2015. Retrieved 4 April 2015.
- McMahon, Neil (14 February 2015). "Iceland's Asatru pagans reach new height with first temple". Reykjavik: BBC News. Retrieved 4 April 2015.