Odin Brotherhood

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4th edition of Mirabello's book

The Odin Brotherhood is the name of an alleged group that practices the modern Pagan religion of Heathenry.[1] The group first came to attention when Mark Mirabello published a book discussing the group and its beliefs, The Odin Brotherhood, in 1992.

According to Mirabello's account, the Brotherhood alleges to be the direct survival of an ancient pre-Christian belief system. Mirabello's book has been mentioned in several publications on religions or secret societies,[2] and the Odin Brotherhood is listed in the eighth edition of J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions.[3] Other scholars and many in the Heathen community have expressed scepticism as to the Brotherhood's existence.


Mark Mirabello, a professor of history at Shawnee State University, [4] claimed he encountered the Odin Brotherhood while earning a PhD in history at Glasgow University.[5] His book on the Odin Brotherhood, originally published in 1992, and now in its sixth edition,[6] describes the eponymous group.[7] The scholar of religion Graham Harvey subsequently stated that although he had received "enigmatic letters" from individuals claiming to be members of the group, he had been "unable to check the veracity of Mirabello's claims."[8] Harvey noted that no other Heathens he communicated with "has any knowledge of the group beyond reading the book. Most doubt its existence".[8] This was true even of one Heathen who was named as a contact in one of the "Brotherhood" letters.[8] Similarly, in the Cultic Studies Review, Thomas Coghlan, a forensic psychologist with the New York Police, stated of Mirabello's book: "at first read it appears specious." [9]

Stephen E. Adkins writes that "British Odinists claim that there has been a secret Odinist movement, the Odin Brotherhood, since 1421....Membership of the Odin Brotherhood has always remained small, but undoubtedly, some adherents made it to the American colonies and the United States."[10]

Beliefs and practices[edit]

Unlike most Heathen groups, which claim to be reconstructionist, the Odin Brotherhood alleges that it preserves genuine traditions of pre-Christian paganism.[1][10] The group claims that it was founded in 1421:[11] a widow was accused of practicing Odinism and burned, and a Catholic priest forced her two sons and daughter to witness the burning, those children were Christians in public, but secretly formed the group to preserve Odinism.[10] Many groups have made claims of being many years old, and it would be really extraordinary if the group had been really founded in 1421.[1]

The Odin Brotherhood embraces Odinism, which is defined as ancient religion that "acknowledges the gods by fostering thought, courage, honor, light, and beauty."[12]

The Odin Brotherhood embraces polytheism. "Hard Polytheists," members believe that the gods and goddesses are distinct individual entities and not psychological archetypes or personifications of natural forces. Called the Aesir and the Vanir, the realms of these deities literally exist in the past, and when the gods and goddesses visit our world, "they are stepping forward in time."[13]

As hard polytheists, the Odin Brotherhood believes that monotheism, "the belief in one totalitarian god, is preposterous and absurd." The Brotherhood insists that "no single, superordinary, ineffable entity controls all realities."[12]

The brotherhood has no buildings (temples or churches) but attempts to honor the gods everywhere, as long as outsiders are excluded; all words are "whispered," and all "abominations" are avoided. The central rite of the brotherhood is called the "Glimpse-Of-Extraordinary-Beauty," during which the celebrants believe they are "enveloped and penetrated by the thoughts of a god".[3]

The brotherhood believes in life after death and that there are three "Other-Worlds," one of which is called Valhalla or the White-Kingdom. Not a paradise, Valhalla is a place of honor for heroes.[12] The existence of the Christian hell is denied.[3]

Melton has written that, "The brotherhood has distanced itself from the racism that has infected Norse beliefs in the twentieth century and eschews the idea that there are either chosen peoples or master races".[3][14]

From the beginning, the Odin Brotherhood has included women in its membership.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c 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
  2. ^ See, for example, 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
  3. ^ a b c d e Melton, J. Gordon (2009). Encyclopedia of American Religions (8 ed.). Gale Cengage. pp. 861f. ISBN 978-0-7876-9696-2.
  4. ^ See WorldCat Identities and WorldCat Identities
  5. ^ Mirabello's Ph.D. Dissertation
  6. ^ worldcat.org
  7. ^ The Odin Brotherhood: A Non-fiction Account of Contact with an Ancient Brotherhood : with a New Epilogue a Statement on the Odin Brotherhood. Holmes Publishing Group. 1992
  8. ^ a b c 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
  9. ^ Thomas Coghlan, New York City Police Department (2007), "The Spread of Ásatrú in Vinland", Cultic Studies Review (International Cultic Studies Association) 6 (3)
  10. ^ a b c Adkins, Stephen E. (2011). Encyclopedia of Right-Wing Extremism in Modern American History. ABC-CLIO. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-59884-350-7.
  11. ^ George Michael, in his Theology of Hate: A History of the World Church of the Creator, University Press of Florida,2009, ISBN 0813033500, refers to the Odin Brotherhood’s claim of antiquity, but is skeptical. See pgs. 51, 214.
  12. ^ a b c Mark Mirabello. The Odin Brotherhood. 6th edition, Oxford: Mandrake of Oxford, 2014, p.27 ISBN 1906958637
  13. ^ Jack Wolf, The Way of the Odin Brotherhood, Oxford: Mandrake of Oxford, 2013, p. 102. ISBN 190695853X
  14. ^ On the Brotherhood's position on race, see Mark Mirabello. The Odin Brotherhood. 6th edition, Oxford: Mandrake of Oxford, 2014, p.38 ISBN 1906958637

External links[edit]