Who Can Worship The Norse Gods?


My partner wants to worship the Norse deities but runs into a lot of media that says that he only wants to appropriate them because he (as a white person) doesn’t have any connection to gods of his own. Do you believe you need to be descended from a certain group (in this case the Norse) in order to worship their deities?

Pre-Christian Norse culture/religion was never closed, and especially given how far and wide they traveled (and intermarried), it’s pretty ridiculous to even claim it. As far as I know, the only people who say such things are ultra-folkish and/or white supremacist groups who are seriously misrepresenting things to cater to their own exclusionary agendas.

I would point to this article published in the Iceland Magazine in May 2017, which focuses on Ásatrú (which is currently an official religion in Iceland), but would apply to the Norse Gods as well, and the following quote in particular:

Anyone can practice the religion but only Icelandic residents can join Ásatrúarfélagið

Only Icelandic citizens or people who have a domicile in Iceland can become members of the Ásatrúarfélag, but anyone can practice Ásatrú, regardless of their nationality or residence. It costs nothing to join and is open to all, irrespective of race, cultural background, gender or sexual orientation.

Ásatrúarfélag is the national pagan association in Iceland – which is why that particular group is only open to those who live in that county. But the religion itself and worship of the Gods is open to all. And I mean, if anyone would know, it’s them right?

Now, I do feel that it’s worth mentioning the following though. Whether or not other religions are able to be practiced by everyone depends on the culture/religion in question. Some are open to everyone – Norse and Hellenic practices for example, while others, such as Native American religions, are closed to those who are not members of the culture (or who have not been adopted into the culture). So it’s always better to ask, if one is unsure.

 

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Asatru: Misconceptions and Resources


I could not find where to specifically ask a question, so I apologize if this winds up attached to someones blog. So I have been Shaman for a long time, but an atheist one. I did not believe in any gods or goddesses. The last few years Odin and Freya have been appearing to me. I started to believe in them and wanted to identify with their tradition.

My husband practices what is called Asatru, but he prefers to be called heathen. I found out why, when researching our faith every American Asatru network was connected to neo nazisim and the most hateful practices.

I am so upset and I feel like I am losing my faith. My husband swears those people are not part of actual Asatru, and that this is why most followers of Asatru now just call themselves Norse Pagans or Heathens. The Odin and Freya I am familiar with were the most loving beings I’ve ever encountered and I feel like a whole that was filled is being emptied. As the mass American belief in this is so horrible I don’t know how to find what the information I need. I am scared that the whole belief might be like this and I just didn’t realize. I hope it’s not true, because for the first time in my life I felt fulfilled and at peace, and then I went to research it and everything changed. I’ve been told repeatedly by my husband that what I do, healing people, healing nature, communing with spirits and following the example of Odin and Freya is what the religious followers actually do and the other people just perverted and poisoned it, but the problem is is that I cannot find ANY information on the old ways, which is what we both practice. I will never ever associate myself with neo nazism, even if it means losing my religion, but I hope my husband is right. That those people perverted it and what they do has nothing in common with true Asatru. Sorry for how long this is, this has been really hard on me. Any help would be wonderfully welcomed.

Your husband is correct – as with any religion there are always going to be those who are fanatics, or who just completely misuse or misinterpret things and go off on their own crazy path, and in that sense these NeoNazi groups that you’ve come across are about as legitimately Asatru as the Westboro Baptist Church is Christian… which is to say not at all (regardless of what they might claim to be). Also, even though certain religions may be more popular with those who might identify as white supremacists, that does not mean that the religions themselves are racist, or promote racism in any way. Not sure why your searches are only turning up those sorts of resources but they are definitely not the norm by any stretch, and in fact there is very little in the lore that supports any sort of racism, or hatred such as those groups espouse. It’s unfortunate as well, that the media often picks up on these types of groups, which makes it seem that they are all like that, when in truth it’s only a very small representation, and not a very accurate one at that.

There are a small number of groups that take a more “folkish” view of things – in that they feel that one must have Norse or Germanic blood in order to practice Asatru. They consider it more of a tribal religion, related to one’s own culture, rather than a more open religion that can be practiced by anyone. Again though – this is not how the majority of those who practice see the religion at all, and while in a technical sense these folkish groups are often referred to as being racist, it’s not anywhere near on the same scale as the violent NeoNazi groups. It’s also not a case where they feel being a particular skin color is better or worse than anyone else, it’s a matter of feeling that the religion is tied to one’s ancestry, and thus closed to “outsiders”.

As far as practices and beliefs, as well as general history of the Norse culture and customs, Gods and Goddess, etc… I would suggest picking the following:

As far as online resources there’s:

Definitely can be a bit upsetting when you think that what you’ve been called to may not quite be what it seemed, but in this case you really don’t have anything to worry about.  🙂

* you can also check our previous post on Norse Paganism in general.

Sexual Orientation and Paganism


What does Paganism say about sexual orientation, if anything?

In a technical sense – Paganism, being an umbrella term that encompasses all non-Abrahamic religions – doesn’t really say anything at all, as each of the paths and religions under that umbrella may (or may not) have their own ways of dealing with the issue.

Having said that though, I think it’s fairly safe to say that in a more general sense many Pagans and their associated religions are in some ways more welcoming, or at least more sensitive to the LGBT community, than many of the more mainstream religions might be. However, that is not to say that you won’t find anti-gay, or even downright homophobic individuals or groups within Paganism as a whole.

Some traditions/paths that do have known stances…

  • If you look at recent events at PantheaCon the last couple years, to the controversy surrounding “women” only rituals and the comments and actions of Z Budapest (founder of Dianic Witchcraft).  This is an ongoing case where it is clear that those who are transgender, are particularly not welcome within certain paths.
  • We often hear about racism within some Heathen groups (though it’s important to note that this is not something that is at all condoned by the wider Heathen community), and along with that often comes homophobic sentiments as well. Interestingly in this particular case, it’s something that is not necessarily supported by the lore, as there are definite cases where the Gods – Þórr and Loki in particular, take on gender-opposite roles. In the Þrymskviða, (Poetic Edda) Þórr dresses up as Freyja in order to retrieve Mjölnir, which the jotnar Þrymr has stolen. In the Gylfaginning (Prose Edda), we learn that Loki is actually a mother. Having changed himself into a female mare in order to save Asgard from losing Freyja and the Sun and Moon, and as a result gives birth to Sleipnir. There is some indication though that it may have been considered “unmanly” for a man to do “women’s” work, however that didn’t stop Óðinn from learning Seidh. The following is an interesting read on the topic in general.
  • Within Wicca specifically, though Gardner himself was known to be extremely homophobic, my understanding is that many covens will welcome those who are LGBT. Something to keep in mind though, is that though one’s sexual preference, when one is not working with one’s coven, is generally up to them – due to the nature of the religion (being a fertility cult and all that entails), within ritual work, it all comes down to the plumbing (so to speak). Men take on the traditional male rolls, women take on the traditional female rolls, regardless of one’s normal sexual preference.
  • There are various groups who are completely inclusive, and clearly welcoming to those of all orientations or gender identities, there is Reclaiming, or Feri, and some Traditional Witchcraft paths – though those are more apt to be gender specific, such as the Minoan Brotherhood, or Dianic.


So in general there are many choices if one is looking for LGBT support within the Pagan community. Of course like any where else in life (at least until we can get to a point where one’s sexual preference/gender identity is no longer an issue), it’s matter of finding place that fits us the best.

Freyja?


Hello, I am having trouble finding information specificly on having Freyja as a patron goddess. I have always considered myself agnostic, but I looked up symbols I have been dreaming about my whole life (boars, wolves, a woman, the word ‘vala’ which turns out to be another word for völva) and they led directly to Freyja. Unfortunately, the little bit of information I can find about her is extremely sparce and redundant. – Candis

The Nordic equivalent of a “patron” would be Fulltrua, and Freyja is very “popular” in this role. There’s a fair bit of others’ UPG out there, as well as lore-based information. Most introduction-to-Heathenry books will have a page or two on her at least. First check out the Poetic and Prose Eddur. It’s best to familiarise yourself with the entire mythology to get a good idea of her anyway, but there are particular tales in which she features such as Hyndluljóð. You might like to pick up one of those introduction books as well; Essential Asatru is a popular one.

Our Troth vol. I has a good 18-19 pages on Freyja, and is a great text for those interested in Heathenry beyond the basic introduction. You can find it here and here. There is also a quarterly publication that is done by The Troth and the Spring ’02 edition is focused entirely on Freyja. You can find it though the following…  in either printed or PDF format.

There’s also a book called “Freyja, Lady, Vanadis” which you can find here and here that is well-reviewed by Heathen reviewers whose opinions I respect. I haven’t read it myself, but feel comfortable mentioning it based on those reviews. Once you’ve ploughed through the Eddur I’d recommend that for further study.

I hope that helped 🙂

Sacred Moments #2


Today’s devotional is a sonnet by an Odinswoman we know. Many thanks to her for allowing us to post it here.

 

Gallows Load

Burnished gallows set with red
Caress the fevered, empty mind
Of man who hangs bloodied and blind
To reach for wisdom, not for bread.

I think to hang there in his stead
And wonder if I dare to bind
My destiny to be his kind
And follow where he never lead.

To ride my orlog like a steed,
If I could dare to take the plunge
Into the noiseless emptiness
That calls me with its baseless need,
Of wisdom’s touch and daring’s lunge
To aid with endless lovingness.

       ~ by Deoridhe Grimsdottir