Odinism is an ancient dedicated to the gods of the Norse pantheon. Odinists also refer to themselves as Heathens or followers of Asatru. There are also those that call themselves as followers of Wotanism.


The religion now called Odinism comprises the indigenous belief and worldview of the Indo-European peoples. Predating the Christian era by many thousands of years, it shows some Paleolithic characteristics as well as Neolithic traits.

Odinism's warlike ethical system, which is common among herding nomads, is the product of an "honor/shame" cultural tradition, as opposed to a "guilt/sin" ethical tradition.

The successful spread of Christianity largely displaced Odinism in Europe during the Dark Ages and Medieval period, although "pockets" of the old traditions survived. Italy, for example, had "Pagan" temples in operation until the early 11th century, Lithuania, officially converted in 1386, was a late pagan stronghold in Europe, and there is evidence of pagan practice in "Norse" Scotland until the early 1700's.

By and large, however, pagan elements only lingered in underground movements, such as the Odin Brotherhood.

Elsewhere, the Indo-European gods continued to be honored; many in their Vedic form within Hinduism or similar traditions.

(Odin, as Priscilla Kershaw pointed out in The One-Eyed God, was honored as Rudra/Shiva , for example, and Thor was honored as Indra.)

Odinism experienced a revival in nineteenth-century Europe during the Neo-Romantic Period, through the work of individuals such as Guido von List, noted for his interpretation of the Runes. Von List visited the crypt of St. Stephens Cathedral in 1862 (the site was a former pagan shrine), and swore an oath to build a temple to Wotan (the Germanic Odin).

Organized Germanic pagan or occult groups such as the Germanische Glaubens-Gemeinschaft emerged in Germany in the early 20th century (the GGG stll exists). Although several early members of the Nazi Party were part of the Thule Society, a study group for German antiquity, after his rise to power Adolf Hitler discouraged such pursuits. {One could say that Hitler took Louis XIV statement "Le'tat c'est moi" to heart.}

During the reign of National Socialism, Neopagan societies were exposed to persecution; with some members of List's Armanenschaft being killed in a concentration camp.

A second revival began in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Ásatrú was recognized as an official religion by the Icelandic government in 1973, largely due to the efforts of Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson.

At about the same time, Else Christensen began publishing "The Odinist" newsletter in Canada.

In the United States, Steve McNallen, a former U.S. Army officer, began publishing a newsletter titled "The Runestone". He also formed an organization called the Asatru Free Assembly, later renamed the Asatru Folk Assembly, which holds annual "Winter Nights" meetings.

These early societies went through a series of reformations and splits in 1987/88, resulting in the Asatru Alliance, an offshoot of the AFA headed by Valgard Murray, publisher of the "Vor Tru" newsletter and the Ring of Troth.

In the United States, the most prevalent form of Heathen organization is in small groups called Kindreds, sometimes also known as Hearths, Garths or Steads.

The Odinic Rite, organized by John Yeowell, was established in England in 1972, and in the 1990s expanded to include chapters in Germany (1995) [1], Australia (1995) [2] and North America (1997) [3].

In the 1990's the Odinist Fellowship emerged as a separate group in the United Kingdom, led by Ralph Harrison.

In Canada, the work of E. Max Hyatt, the force behind Wodanesdag, has been significant.

In Italy, the Odinist Community (Comunità Odinista) was established in 1994.

In the 1990s and 2000s, a variety of Scandinavian associations and networks have formed. Swedish Asatrosamfund (since 1994), Norwegian Åsatrufellesskapet Bifrost in Norway (1996) and Foreningen Forn Sed (1999), recognized by the Norwegian government as a religious society, allowing them to perform "legally binding civil ceremonies" (i. e. marriages), Danish Forn Siðr (1999) and Swedish Nätverket Gimle (2001), an informal community for individual heathens, primarily living in Sweden with no connection to any formal organisation, and Nätverket Forn Sed (2004), a network consisting of local groups (blotlag) from all over the country. It was recently founded by members from other Forn Sed societies.

Since 1973 the governments of Iceland, Denmark, and Norway have officially recognized Odinism/Asatru.

A Brief Chronology

History of Odinism/Asatru

1386 CE: Lithuania, the last pagan stronghold in Europe is officially converted, but paganism lingers

1421 CE: Three children, acting on instructions from their murdered mother, establish the Odin Brotherhood.

1611 CE: Johannes Bureus of Sweden, advisor to King Gustavus Adolphus, begins drawing and interpreting Sweden’s runestones. Many have been lost and are only known to us through his drawings.

1622 CE: Ole Worm of Denmark collects reports on runestones and other antique monuments of Denmark and the Northern countries. Bureus and Worm may be thought of as the founders of modern runic studies.

1642 CE: Bishop Brynjólfur gifts the “Codex Regius” to King Frederick III. Afterwards, the Eddic poems began to be published and more widely known.

1790 CE: The Romantic movement inspired Germans and Scandinavians seeking their national identity in their own origins and resulted in much of the early literature being translated.1818 CE: The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, publish their collection of fairy tales.

1844 CE: Jacob Grimm publishes Teutonic Mythology , a study of medieval Norse literature’s relation to Germanic folklore.

1845 CE: Charles W. Heckethorn describes an Odinist mystery cult, in his Secret Societies of All Ages and Countries

1862 CE:P Guido von List visited the crypt of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (the location of a former pagan shrine) and swore an oath to build a temple to Wotan.1874 CE: The King of Denmark grants the people of Iceland freedom of religion.

1875 CE: The cathedral of Reykjavik, Iceland is the site of the first public Ásatrú Blót since 1000 CE.

1907 CE: German painter and writer Ludwig Fahrenkrog founds the Germanic Glaubens -Gemeinschaft (GGG), a German Heathen group.

1933-1945 CE: In the Nazi era, Heathens face persecution by both the Axis and Allies. Their groups are forbidden to meet and some leaders are jailed.

1957 CE: In Australia, A. Rud Mills publishes a series of books on the elder religion.

1969 CE: Else Christensen establishes the Odinist Fellowship.

1972 CE: Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson founded the Ásatrúarfélagið of Iceland. In 1973, Ásatrú is accepted as one of the official religions of Iceland.

1973 CE: The Odinic Rite was also moving to gain acceptance in England.

1973 CE: Stephen McNallen founded the Ásatrú Free Assembly of America, establishing Ásatrú solidly as a re-created Heathen religion.

1982CE: Certain members of the Odin Brotherhood decide to reveal some of the secrets of the movement.

1987CE: The Asatru Alliance is established by Michael J. Murray (Valgard Murray).

1992 CE: The Odin Brotherhood, a non-fiction book by Mark Mirabello, is published.

1994 CE: The Comunità Odinista is established in Italy.

2004 CE: David Lane, a Wotanist, or extreme folkish pagan, writes KD Rebel, a novella describing radical Odinists fighting a guerilla insurgency against a corrupt modern society.

2009 CE: Asatru and Odinist groups are now found throughout Europe, North America, South America, and Auatralia/New Zealand


The Eddic poem Völuspá (Prophecy of the Seeress) reveals the mysteries of Odinist cosmology. The poem portrays a period of primeval chaos, followed by the creation of giants and gods and, finally, of humankind.

Odinism is polytheistic in theology. The pantheon is divided into two groups, the Aesir and the Vanir. (Odin and Thor are Aesir; Frey and Freyja are Vanir.)


Aesir are the warrior-gods of the Norse Pantheon. They tend to have dominion over concepts generally associated only with human beings, like Wisdom, Bravery, War, Eloquence, Revenge, or Innocence; this is in contrast to the more primal Vanir. While Odin is regarded as the Lord (or King) of the Aesir, individual tÁsatrúar decide for themselves which is most important to them, based on their personal beliefs and preferences.


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 God 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 God of war who risked and lost his hand so the Gods could bind the fearsome wolf Fenrir. Once was the most popularly worshipped God until he was overtaken by Odin. Tuesday, or "Tyr's Day" is named after him)

Baldr (Also commonly known as Balder, he was Odins 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)

Vidar (Another son of Odin, he is the God 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 God 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 god 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 noone." 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)


The Vanir are more primal counterparts to the Aesir, with whom they were frequently at war. Vanir tend towards more nature-related domains, such as fertility, pleasure, attraction, sex, and youth. In accordance with germanic traditions, they frequently exchanged hostages/prisoners to cement the peace with the Aesir after their many wars. There is no defined Leader of the Vanir, though this itself lends towards the interpretation of the Vanir as nature gods or spirits.


Njord (God of the fertile lands on the seacoast, as well as seamanship and sailing. He is Odins brother-in-law.)

Freyr (God of Fertility, Peace and Pleasure. 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)


Freya (Goddess of love, fertility, sex, attraction and war. 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)

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.)


Loki (A mischievous entity who likes to play tricks with the gods, he is also referred to in places as a giant. Loki was a source of contstant 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 occassions. It was Loki afterall 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 constanty 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 Charges."

1. To strive for the advancement of the Odinism, to promote its prosperity and spirituality and to sustain its discipline.

2. To maintain family loyalty.

3. To educate one's children in the spirit of the Odinism.

4. In all ways to be zealous in one's efforts to advance the interests of our holy religion.

5. To regard fellow members as comrades.

6. To aid and be aided in sickness and distress.

7. To maintain courtesy of speech.

8. To be slow to take offence and to be ready for reconciliation without delay.

The Odinist afterlife has several destination, depending on how one has lived (and died). The most esteemed go to Valhalla, brought there by warrior maidens called Valkyries.

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. The Odin Brotherhood use the runes not used to tell future, but to summon a dead person so that he will tell 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

Viktor Rydberg's "Teutonic Mythology: Gods and Goddesses of the Northland" e-book

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

Teachings of the Odin Brotherhood Portland, nd. pdf file

This Is Odinism. 1974. ISBN 095046130X

Titchenell, Elsa-Brita. The Masks of Odin: Wisdom of the Ancient Norse

Wodanson, Edred. Asatru-The Hidden Fortress. Parksville, BC, Canada, 2005.

Yeowell, John. Book of Blots. 1991. ISBN 0950461350

Odinic Rite Flyer

The Library of Odinism and Asatru (pdf. files)

External Links

Odinism/Asatru Library (pdf files)

What is Odinism?

Why Do We Call It Odinism?

Odin Brotherhood

Odin Brotherhood

Odin Brotherhood in Germany

European Ancestral Religion

An Archive of Essential Texts on traditional Norse Religion

Some Videos on Asatru/Odinism

Interview on Odinism by the Leader of the Odinic Rite

Pamphlet on Odinism/Asatru pdf. file

Article on Odinism in Italian

See Also

Odin Brotherhood


Odinist Fellowship

Articles of Interest

The Asatru Folk Assembly on Asatru/Odinism

Professor Mattias Gardell, professor of religious history at the University of Stockholm, on radical Odinism

List of Some Odinist/Asatru Organizations in the World

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