|Doctrines|| ||Practitioners of the
Northern Traditions follow the pre-Christian Pagan traditions of Northern
Europe, centred around two distinctive groups of divinities, the Aesir sky
gods (such as the chief god Odin, Frigga, Thor and Baldur) and the Vanir
earth gods (such as Frey and Freya). Under this umbrella can be found
those who call themselves Odinists, after Odin, and those who prefer the
term Asatruar, calling their religion Asatru ('loyalty to the Aesir'), as
they do not only worship Odin. |
The Gods are viewed as immanent and manifest in nature, and are venerated through the seasonal celebrations which are based around the major festivals of Yule (Winter Solstice, c.21st December), which is considered to last for twelve days, each representing a month of the coming year, and Midsummer (Summer Solstice, c. 21st June), a festival of the sun and the triumph of light, and the Spring and Autumn equinoxes called Summer-finding (c.21st March), and Winter-finding (c.21st September).
Asatru is more male-oriented than some Pagan religions, but Asatru groups are led by both men and women and both officiate in religious ceremonies. Women played an important role in Norse-Germanic religion as Volvas and Seidkonas, the priestess-practitioners of magic and divination, and the work of a number of women and men on these roles and the myths of Northern Goddesses is leading Odinism into a less male-oriented future.
|History|| ||The Norse-German Gods were
worshipped all over Northern and Western Europe by the ancestors of the
Norse, Dutch, German and English peoples, and were brought to Britain by
invaders such as the Angles, Saxons and Vikings. |
Iceland was uninhabited until the ninth century when it was settled by Norse invaders, the majority of whom were Pagan though some were Christian . Thus, the myths and stories of the Northern Tradition have always been part of Iceland's cultural heritage, Christianity being adopted as the state religion in the year 1,000 only through a substantial bribe to the law-speaker Thorgeirr. Nevertheless, many must have embraced Christianity wholeheartedly, for in the early thirteenth century, the Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson felt it was necessary to preserve his people's traditions and wrote down what he knew in a collection of works known as the Prose Edda. This and the Poetic Edda constitute the main Norse-German religious writings. Asatru was revived earlier this century and in 1973 was recognised as an official state religion along with Christianity, with the right to conduct legally binding weddings and child namings etc.
|Symbols|| ||The most widely used
symbols in Asatru are the runes, believed to have been discovered by Odin.
The runic symbols are thought to be embodiments of truth, and are used for
divination, magic, and decoration to honour the gods. Various 'alphabets'
of runes are used today, stemming from various roots - Anglo-Saxon,
Norwegian and Icelandic, for example.|
Also used is the Volknut, three interlinked triangles, representing the nine worlds which together make up the Tree of Life, Yggdrasil.
|Adherents|| ||No official figures are
available. Asatru is practised in Iceland, Britain, Germany, the
Netherlands, Scandinavia and further afield in the USA, Australia and New
The main representative bodies are as follows: Rune Gild - UK, BM Aswynn,
London WC1N 3XX, England; Odinic Rite, BCM Runic, London WC1N 3XX,
England, and Odinshof, BCM Tercel, London, WC1N 3XX, England. In 1988 and
1987 respectively, the latter two organisations were registered as
religious charities, the first polytheistic and pagan organisations to do