The Raven Kindred Ritual Book By Lewis Stead and The Raven Kindreds,
Northern & Southern Hearths
The Raven Kindred Ritual Book is Copyright(c)1991,1992,1993 by Lewis
Stead, All Rights Reserved. Copies of this book are available from
the Raven Kindred; 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175 at a cost of $5/booklet
or may be downloaded free of charge from the Moonrise BBS at (301)
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Less than a thousand years ago the elders of Iceland made a fateful
decision. Under political pressure from Christian Europe and faced
with the need for trade, the Allthing or national assembly declared
Iceland to be an officially Christian country. Within a few centuries
the last remnants of Nordic Paganism, which once stretched through all
of Northern Europe were thought dead. However, Iceland was a tolerant
country and the myths, stories, and legends of Pagan times were left
unburnt to kindle the fires of belief in later generations. In 1972
Iceland once again recognized Nordic Paganism as a legitimate and
Iceland and Sweden were the last two bastions of the Pagan religion
originally practiced by the people of the various Germanic tribes.
Today Nordic Paganism also known as Odinism, Heathenism, Northern
Tradition, or Asatru (an Old-Norse term meaning .loyalty to the Gods.)
is practiced in virtually all the countries where it originally
flourished as well as America and Australia. It is one of a body of
religions calling themselves Neo-Paganism which include Druidism, the
revival of ancient Celtic Paganism, and Wicca or Witchcraft. However
Asatru remains largely unknown even within the community of Neo-Pagan
This book is intended as a basic manual to the beliefs and practices
of the Raven Kindred of Asatru. We do not pretend to be experts and
won.t act as if we were. Rather we are simply believers in the Old
Gods seeking to share our practice and research with others who are
true to the Aesir. Our aim is to present a simple guide which will
allow easy understanding of the principles behind Asatru and to give
hints for further study and exploration.
While we attempt to be historically accurate to our religion's roots,
it.s important to note that there are many things that we simply don.t
know or which aren.t written in stone. While we occasionally need to
flesh out our systems where we don.t have direct evidence of our
ancestors ways, we are not likely to simply make up things. It is
very important to us to stay as true to the ways of the old Pagans as
is possible. In those places where the various myths, legends, and
folklore are not clear we have tried to indicate this. We do not
present our way as the .true. Asatru, but we do feel that all Asatru
should be solidly connected to its roots in ancient Norse practice.
Where we do not know the certain answer to a quesation, there is room
for exploration, but not for simply making something up out of whole
cloth. While inspiration from the Gods is an important part of our
movement, this is not make believe and any additions to the historical
system should be made with respect to our ancient roots.
The most important thing for modern people to remember about Asatru is
that it is a religion. It is not a system of magick or spirituality
or .New Age Practice. which can be grafted onto something else or onto
which other .systems. can be grafted wholesale. Asatru is a word
derived from .As. a God of the Aesir family and .tru. meaning troth.
To be Asatru is to be bound by loyalty and troth to the Old Gods of
the North. While we may believe in the deities of other religions and
peoples, and even respect them, these are not our Gods. While we may
take part in rituals dedicated to other Gods at ecumenical Pagan
festivals or gatherings which encompass many other religions, we must
not forget that Asatru is our religion and our primary concern. One
simply does not collect membership in Asatru (or any other religion)
as if one were collecting stamps. Our Gods are real and worthy of our
Today many people .practice. a number of different religions feeling
that this is the best way to avoid intolerance, we have a completely
different view of the world. Asatru is not a universal religion. We
do not see ourselves as a path for everyone. We are true polytheists
and see the world as encompassing many religions which worship many
Gods. While we do not deny the beliefs of others, we also do not
confuse them with our own. The idea that .it is all one. is anathema
to the true Heathen. To claim that Odin is the same God as Zeus is
madness. Would one claim that green and red are the same merely
because they are both colors? If one disagrees with this perspective
or finds it limiting so be it. Our belief is also that Asatru is not
a path for everyone and it is better to find ones own way rather than
bend the religions of others to fit ourselves.
In accordance with this non-universalist conception, as much as we
have been able to, we have not adopted the practices of other Pagan
religions or magickal systems. Those familiar with Wicca will note
that most modern Neo-Pagan systems are derived from it. This is not
the case with Asatru. Our religion began with reconstruction based on
written sources dating from the Pagan period. This has been followed
by 20 years of innovation and practice within the Heathen community.
While we make no pretensions that this has resulted in a system that
is identical with that of our spiritual ancestors, it is at least a
system that is our own.
In saying this I would reiterate that we do not put down any religion
for it.s beliefs. We merely ask for the integrity of our own. We are
not rejecting other systems because they are wrong or because we think
ill of them, we are rather choosing Asatru because of our love and
devotion to it.
The Rituals of Asatru
The Blot is the most common ritual within Asatru. In its simplest
form a blot is making a sacrifice to the Gods. In the old days this
was done by feasting on an animal consecrated to the Gods and then
slaughtered. As we are no longer farmers and our needs are simpler
today, the most common blot is an offering of mead or other alcoholic
beverage to the deities.
Many modern folk will be suspicious of a ritual such as this. Rituals
which are deemed sacrifices, such as the blot, have been falsely
interpreted by post-Pagan sources in order to denigrate the ritual or
trivialize them. The most common myth about ritual sacrifice is that
one is buying off a deity e.g. one throws a virgin into the Volcano
so it won.t erupt. Nothing could be further from the truth. In
Asatru it is believed that we are not only the worshippers of the Gods
but that we are physically related to them. The Eddas tell of a God,
Rig, who went to various farmsteads and fathered the human race so we
are physically kin to the Gods. On a more esoteric level, humankind
is gifted with .ond. or the gift of ecstasy. Ond is a force that is
of the Gods. It is everything that makes humans different from the
other creatures of the world. As creatures with this gift, we are
immediately connected to the Gods, we are part of their tribe, their
kin. Thus we are not simply buying off the Gods by offering them
something that they want, but we are sharing with the Gods something
that we all take joy in. Sharing and gift giving was an important
part of most ancient cultures and had magical significance. Giving a
gift was a sign of friendship, kinship, and connection. By sharing a
blot with the Gods we reaffirm our connection to them and thus
reawaken their powers within us and their watchfulness over our world.
A blot can be a simple affair where a horn of mead is consecrated to
the Gods and then poured as a libation, or it can be a part of a
larger ritual. A good comparison is the Catholic Mass which may be
part of a regular service or special event such as a wedding or
funeral, or it may be done as a purely magical-religious practice
without any sermon, hymns, or other trappings.
The blot consists of three parts, the hallowing or consecrating of the
offering, the sharing of the offering, and the libation. Each of
these is equally important. The only tools required are mead, beer or
juice, a horn or chalice, a sprig of evergreen used to sprinkle the
mead, and a ceremonial bowl known as a Hlautbowl into which the
initial libation will be made.
The blot begins with the consecration of the offering. The Gothi
(Priest) or Gythia (Priestess) officiating at the blot invokes the God
or Goddess being honored. This is usually accomplished by a spoken
declaration with ones arms being held above ones head in a Y shape, in
imitation of the rune elhaz. This posture is used for most
invocations and prayers throughout Asatru. After the spoken
invocation an appropriate rune or other symbol of the God or Goddess
may be drawn in the air with the finger or with the staff. Once the
God is invoked, the Gothi takes up the horn. His assistant pours mead
from the bottle into the horn. The Gothi then traces the hammer sign
(an upside down T) over the horn as a blessing and holds it above his
head offering it to the Gods. He then speaks a request that the God
or Goddess bless the offering and accept it as a sacrifice. At the
least one will feel the presence of the deity; at best one will be
able to feel in some inner way the God taking of the mead and drinking
The mead is now not only blessed with divine power but has passed the
lips of the God or Goddess. The Gothi then takes a drink of the horn
and it is passed around the gathered folk. Although it sounds like a
very simple thing, it can be a very powerful experience. At this
point the mead is no longer simply a drink but is imbued with the
blessing and power of the God or Goddess being honored. When one
drinks, one is taking that power into oneself. This is the essence of
the rune Gebo. After the horn has made the rounds once, the Gothi
again drinks from the horn and then empties the remainder into the
hlautbowl. The Gothi then takes up the evergreen sprig and his
assistant the Hlautbowl and the Gothi sprinkles the mead around the
circle or temple or onto the altar. If there are a great number of
the folk gathered, one may wish to drop the drinking and merely
sprinkle the various folk with the mead as a way of sharing it. In a
small group one might merely drink as the blessing.
When this is done the Hlautbowl is taken by the Gothi and poured out
onto the ground. This is done as an offering not only to the God
invoked at the blot, but it is also traditional to remember the Earth
Mother at this time, since it is being poured onto her ground. Many
invocations mention the God, Goddess, or spirit being sacrificed to,
and then Mother Earth, as in the Sigrdrifa Prayer .Hail to the Gods
and to the Goddesses as well; Hail Earth that gives to all men..
(Sigrdrifumal 3) With this action, the blot is ended.
Obviously this is a very sparse ritual and if performed alone could be
completed in only a few minutes. This is as it should be, for blots
are often poured not because it is a time of gathering or festivity
for the folk, but because the blot must be poured in honor or petition
of a God or Goddess on their holiday or some other important occasion.
For example, a father tending his sick child might pour a blot to Eir
the Goddess of healing. Obviously he doesn.t have time to waste on
the .trappings. of ritual. The intent is to make an offering to the
Goddess as quickly as possible. At some times a full celebration
might not be made of a holiday because of a persons hectic schedule,
but at the least a blot should be made to mark the occasion. However,
in most cases a blot will at least be accompanied by a statement of
intent at the beginning and some sort of conclusion at the end. It
might also be interspersed with or done at the conclusion of ritual
theater or magic.
One of the most common celebrations noted in tales of our ancestors is
the Sumbel or ritual drinking celebration. This was a more mundane
and social sort of ritual than the blot, but of no less importance.
When Beowulf came to Hrothgar, the first thing they did was to drink
at a ritual sumbel. This was a way of establishing Beowulf.s identity
and what his intent was, and doing so in a sacred and traditional
manner. At the sumbel toasts are drunk to the Gods, as well as to a
persons ancestors or personal heroes. Rather than a toast, a person
might also offer a brag or some story, song, or poem that has
significance. The importance is that at the end of the toast, story,
or whatever, the person offering it drinks from the horn, and in doing
so .drinks in. what he spoke.
The sumbel is also an important time for the folk to get to know each
other in a more intimate way than most people are willing to share.
Modern society is at two extremes. At one end are the emotionless
beings who have been robbed of their soul by modern industrial secular
culture. On the other side are those pathetic .sensitive New-Age
guys. who spend their lives consciously attempting to stir their
emotions and who force an unnatural level of intimacy between
themselves and others. There are some levels of emotional intimacy
which are not meant to be openly shared with strangers. Doing so
reduces their meaning to the mundane. At sumbel, barriers can be
lowered in a place which is sacred to the Gods and the Folk. Thoughts
can be shared among companions and friends without embarrassment or
One format for the sumbel with a history in tradition is to drink
three rounds. The first is dedicated to the Gods, the second to great
heroes of the folk such as historical figures or heroes from the
sagas, and the third to personal ancestors, heroes, or friends which
have passed from this world.
Another theme for a sumbel is past, present, and future. This type of
sumbel is more of a magical ritual than one of celebration. The idea
is to make toasts which bring up some aspect of your past, and present
situation, and a third toast or brag which represents your wishes for
the future. One might make a toast to the first Asatru ritual one
attended as the past, a second to the companions and kindred then
gathered, and for his third toast might state that he intends to be
initiated as a Gothi in the coming year. The purpose would be to link
the coming event of his initiation with the two already accomplished
events of pledging Asatru and finding a kindred . two other important
rites of passage. In this case initiation as a Gothi then becomes
something which is linked to a chain of events that have already
occurred, rather than an isolated action which might occur. Thus
magically, this moves the person towards his initiation.
A third and everpopular type of sumbel is a free-for-all where stories
are told, toasts are made, and bragging is done until all the gathered
Odinists are under the table. Perhaps this is not quite so esoteric
or purposeful as the previous ideas, but it.s certainly in keeping
with the examples of our Gods and ancestors! Joy is better than guilt!
These are only ideas. The sumbel is a very open ended type of thing
and the framework is very simple to adapt.
One thing important to note about any Asatru ritual is that ours is a
holistic religion. We do not limit our Gods or spirituality to a
certain time and place. While the sacrament of the blot is usually
poured as part of a ceremony, the feast afterwards, singing of sacred
songs, reciting of poetry, Morris Dancing, etc are all part of our
religion. A truly traditional celebration might begin with a rather
informal greeting of the dawn, involve May Dancing and .mystery
plays,. then move on to a more structured Blot, and finally to a feast
capped by a sumbel. On the other side of things, there.s no reason
why at a family feast one might not simply pour a bottle of beer or
mead as an offering without the other trappings of a blot.
Profession is one of the most important ceremonies in Asatru. To
Profess one.s belief in and kinship to the Gods should be an important
turning point in ones life and the beginning of a new understanding of
the self. Profession is, however, a very simple and rather short
ceremony. In our kindred we usually profess people after beginning
the ritual, but before we offer the formal blot.
Profession is not an occult or initiatory ceremony. It is nothing
less than it.s name: one professes (declares, affirms) his wish to
become one of the Asafolk. This oath is usually taken by the
Kindred-Gothi on the oath ring or some other Holy object as follows:
The Gothi stands in front of the altar and says .Will [insert name
here] please come forward.. After he or she does so .Are you here of
your own free will? Is it your intention to solemnly swear allegiance
and kinship to the Gods of Asgard, the Aesir and Vanir?. If the answer
to both these questions is in the affirmative the Gothi takes up the
oath ring and holds it out to the person professing and says .Repeat
after me. I swear to ever uphold the Raven Banner of Asgard, to
follow the way of the North, to always act with honor and bravery, and
to be ever true to the Aesir and Vanir and to Asatru. By the Gods I
so swear. By my honor I so swear. On this Holy Ring I do swear.
Hail the Gods.. The kindred then replies .Hail the Gods!. and the
Gothi finishes .Then be welcome to the service of Asgard and the Folk
of the Asatru..
There may be other celebrations connected to a Profession, just as
other religions hold Bar Mitzvah or Confirmation parties. When
someone joins our kindred, we hold a Sumbel of nine rounds, each
dedicated to one of the values of Asatru (see below) and toast those
values to the new kinsman.
The ancient Norse knew four major holidays the Spring and Autumn
Equinoxes which we call Summer and Winter Finding, and the two
solstices which we call Midsummer and Yule. However, there were many
other minor festivals and modern Asatru have added even more. A
calendar of our kindred.s rituals is provided in an appendix and I
also encourage anyone to find as many as one is willing to meet for.
We meet monthly, but some groups meet 8 times a year and also
celebrate the cross-quarter days of May Day/Walpurgis,
Halloween/Samhain, February eve or The Charming of the Plow, and
Lammastide or Freyfaxi,
Most of our rituals also honor only one or a few Gods or Goddesses at
any one time. However, there is no reason why the entire pantheon
should not be offered prayers and thanks at any occasion. This would
be particularly appropriate at the major holidays. Unlike most other
groups in the Neo-Pagan movement, we do not necessarily honor Gods in
male/female pairs. The boy/girl notion is one taken from the Pagan
fertility religion of Wicca and isn.t necessarily appropriate to our
Gods, who often represent things other than fertility. So while a
Spring ritual held in honor of Freya and Frey as fertility deities
might wish to honor them together, there is no reason to include Frigg
in a ritual dedicated to Odin as the God of War.
Yule is the most important holiday of the year. Everyone is familiar
with the shortness of the deep winter days, but in the Scandinavian
countries this is of even greater importance. At the Yuletide there
is almost no sunlight at all, and the climate would have people bound
in their homes waiting for the return of Spring.
Yule is a long festival, traditionally held to be 12 days or more.
After Yule the days began to get longer and the festival represented
the breaking of the heart of winter and the beginning of the new year.
Yule was the holiday of either Thor or Frey, although there is no
reason not to honor both Gods in modern practice. Frey is the God of
fertility and farming and was honored at Yule in the hopes that his
time would soon return. Thor was the sworn enemy of the Frost Giants
and Jotunn who ruled the winter months, and as such was honored as the
God who.s actions fought off these creatures and brought back the
spring. Sunna, the Goddess of the Sun, should also be honored at
Yule, although she is held at more important during the summer months
when she is at her strongest.
The most important symbols of Yule are still with us today. Most of
the supposedly secular customs of Christmas are actually Pagan in
origin. Evergreen trees and holly which remained green throughout the
long nights and cold were a promise that spring would once again
return to the land. These symbols may also have been a connection to
the nature spirits who have sway over the return of the warm days.
The modern conception of Santa Claus as an elf, for whom offerings of
milk and cookies are left, is probably a modern continuation of
leaving offerings for the Alvar and other nature spirits. The idea of
children staying up all night in the hopes of catching a glimpse of
Santa Claus may be a remnant of people staying awake to mark the long
night and remind the sun to return. (In the latter case it.s
considered an adequate substitution to leave a candle going all night
to light the way for the returning sun.)
Yule is a weeks long festival, not just a single holiday. The Yule
season begins on the solstice, which is the Mother Night of Yule, and
ends with Twelfth Night on January sixth. As a point of interest,
January seventh is St. Distaff.s day, which Nigel Pennic has
suggested may have been a day sacred to Frigg, whose symbol is the
While one might expect a rather dour theme to a holiday held in the
darkness and cold, Yule is a time of feasting and gladness.
In various places different Gods were held to be the most important at
Yule. Thor was honored because it is he who fights and kills the
Jotunn, who surely are the ones responsible for the loss of warmth in
the world. Yule was when Thor broke the back of winter and allowed
the warmth to slowly return to the world. Frey was also honored
because it was he who married Gerd and warmed her heart, returning
fertility to the world.
There are simply so many different Yule customs, both ancient and
modern, that one has almost limitless possibilities even when staying
within Scandanavian and Germanic customs. In modern practice one
might honor Sunna on the Mother Night, then hold a blot a few days
later to Thor, a feast for New Years day which is shared with the
house and land spirits, and then finish on Twelfth Night with a ritual
to Frey, whose time is then officially beginning.
Summer Finding is also known to many groups as Ostara, the holiday
sacred to the Goddess for whom the modern Easter is named. She is a
fertility Goddess and her symbols are the hare and the egg. She was
an important Goddess of spring to the ancient Saxons, but we know
little else of her other than this. Some have suggested that Ostara
is merely an alternate name for Frigg or Freya, but neither of these
Goddesses seem to have quite the same fertility function as Ostara
does. Frigg seems too high class to be associated with such an earthy
festival and Freya.s form of fertility is more based on eroticism than
The obvious folk tradition at this time of year involves eggs. These
were colored as they are today, but then they were buried, or more
appropriately, planted in the earth. Some have suggested that the act
was purely magical, the fertility of the eggs would then be
transferred from the animal realm to the plant realm and would
increase the prosperity of the harvest. It.s also possible that they
were left as an offering to the alvar and the spirits of the plants.
In any case a blot should be prepared to the Goddess of Spring,
however one wishes to honor her, and also to the spirits of the land.
The summer solstice was second only to Yule in importance to the
ancient Northmen. Some groups mark this day as sacred to Balder, but
we disagree with this. While Balder can be seen as a dying and
resurrected Sun God, in the mythology we are most familiar with, he
does not return to life until Ragnarok and it seems like .bad karma.
to symbolically kill the sun when you know he doesn.t come back until
the end of the world. Instead, we mark this day as sacred to the
Goddess Sunna, who is literally the sun.
One idea for midsummer is to remain awake all night and mark the
shortest night of the year, then at sunrise to perform a .Greeting of
Sunna. and a blot to her.
Another midsummer custom is the rolling of a flaming wagon wheel down
a hill to mark the turning of the wheel of the year. If fire would
otherwise be a hazard, one could parade a wheel covered with candles
for similar effect. It is also a time for general merriment and in
the Scandinavian countries many of what we know as the traditional May
Day rituals such as May Poles and Morris Dances were instead
celebrated at Midsummer.
I have not come across a great deal of traditional lore about the
Autumn Equinox which we know as Winter Finding. It seems to have been
overshadowed to some extent by the Winter Nights which we celebrate at
the equinox rather than at the more traditional time of mid-November.
If one wishes not to do this, the Winter Finding would be a festival
of harvest. One should hold a Blot to whichever Gods of fertility
seem most appropriate and then hold a large feast, concerntrating on
vegetables that are currently in season.
The Winter Nights are the traditional festival honoring the Disir or
family spirits. It is a time to remember your family, the dead, and
your ancestors. (For more information on the Disir see the chapter
.Elves and other Spirits..)
A Freyablot may be performed at this time as Freya is known as the
Vanadis (i.e. the Dis of the Vanir) or the Great Dis, and she seems
to be the Goddess of the Disir themselves. This is probably connected
to Freya.s position as recipient of half the battle-slain. One might
also simply want to honor the Disir as a whole, or attempt to summon
and pour offering to your own family.s Dis. A sumbel which toasts
ones ancestors and passed on friends would also be in order. If a
feast is held, it should be quiet and respectful of the character of
the season. Another idea is a silent .mum feast,. a custom which is
found the world over.
The various Halloween customs such as dressing in costume or
celebrating this time as a time where the worlds of the living and the
dead connect are more Celtic in origin than Nordic and probably should
not be part of an Asatru celebration.
The Gods of Asgard
The Old Norse reckoned that there were three races of Gods: the Aesir,
the Vanir, and the Jotunn. The Aesir are those beings most often
referred to in the ancient literature simply as .the Gods.. They are
the Gods of society, representing things such as Kingship, Craft, etc.
The Vanir are more closely connected to the earth and represent the
fecundity of the land and the natural forces which help mankind. Once
there was a great war between the Aesir and the Vanir, but this was
eventually settled and Frey, Freya, and Njord came to live with the
Aesir to seal the peace. The Jotunn are a third race of Gods and at
constant war with the Aesir, but there is and never will be peace in
this battle. The Jotunn are never called Gods, but rather referred to
as giants. They represent the natural forces of chaos and destruction
as the Aesir represent forces of order and society. Just as fire and
ice mix to form the world, this creative interaction of chaos and
order maintains the balance of the world. In the end the two sides
will meet in the great battle of Ragnarok and the world will be
destroyed, only to be reborn.
The Norse Gods were not held to be all powerful or immortal. Their
youth was maintained very precariously by the magickal apples of the
Goddess Idunna. More importantly at the end of the world a good
number of the Gods will die in battle. The Northern view of the world
was a practical one with little assurance for the future and little
perfection and the Gods are no exception.
The Gods in the Temple: Odin, Thor, and Frey
The three most important Gods were held to be Odin, Thor, and Frey.
These were the deities whose statutes stood at the altar of the temple
at Upsalla. They are considered the most important because of what
they represent. Mythologer Georges Dumezil has linked these three
deities with the three classes of Indo-European culture: the Kings,
the Warriors, and the Farmers. Although the fit is not an exact one,
it is probably true that these three deities most concretely
symbolized the various aspects of life and culture and most people
would have found a God who represented their life-experience in one of
these three deities.
Odin is the Allfather, remembered today best as a God of war and of
the berserk rage of the Vikings. However, he has other aspects which
are just as strong or stronger. In the Eddas, he is the King of the
Gods, but this is a position which most of the Germanic peoples
attributed to Tyr. It.s likely that Odin only became King during the
Viking Age. Being the Allfather, his original position of leadership
was probably familial rather than legislative. Most importantly he is
a God of transcendent wisdom and in relation to that a God of magick.
He is the God of the Runes, the magical alphabet which holds the
mysteries of the universe within it. In most of the non-Viking
countries, Odin.s warrior aspect was played down. In England, where
he is known as Woden, he is a gray cloaked wanderer (the inspiration
for Tolkien.s Gandalf) who travels the country, usually alone,
surveying his land. Here again we see him in the position of a father
figure, a warder of the land but not necessarily a King. Odin is also
a God of the dead. Half of the slain in battles go to him to prepare
for the Ragnarok. (The remaining half go to Freya.) He also has
associations with the dead as a practitioner of Seidhr, a form of
shamanic magick which he learned from Freya and used on various
occasions to travel to Hel and seek the knowledge of those who have
passed from this world. It.s difficult to classify Odin simply
because he was such a popular God during the last stages of Norse
Paganism and thus absorbed many traits of other Gods.
Thor is probably the best known of the Norse Gods. He is a simple
God, the patron of farmers and other folk who are .wise, but not too
wise. as the Eddas advise us to be. Thor is best known for wandering
the world in search of adventure; usually found in the form of giants
or other monsters to kill. He possesses tremendous strength and the
hammer Mjolnir, which was made for him by the Dwarfs. Mjolnir is
considered to be the Gods greatest treasure because it is sure
protection from the forces of chaos. Using Mjolnir, Thor is a warrior
figure, but he is less a professional warrior than a common man called
upon to defend his land. He loves battle not for itself as do the
berserkers of Odin, nor does he have a strong code of honor such as
that of Tyr.in fact he chronically breaks with honor and kills giants
whether they have the protection of .hospitality. or not. Thor is
associated with thunder, and is also the God of rain and storms, but
it.s important to note that he is not the God of destructive storms.
Thor is nature as a benefit to man. The Jotunn are held to be the
source of the destruction found in nature. Thor was the God of
.everyman.. He was simple in purpose, strong, and free. He was most
beloved of the freemen farmers who populated the Germanic lands.
Frey is a God of peace and fertility. If Thor is the God of the
farmer, then Frey is the God of the crops themselves. His symbol is
the priapus and his blessings were sought at planting and other
important agricultural festivals. The word .frey. means .Lord. and
it.s unsure if this is the Gods name or his title. He is also known
as Ing. We do not known a great deal more about Frey as few myths
have survived which give us any insight into his character. As much
as he is a God of fertility, he is also a God of peace and Ing was
said to have brought a Golden Age of peace and prosperity to old
Denmark. Horses are held to be sacred to Frey, probably because of
In general we know much less about how our ancestors worshipped the
Goddesses than the Gods. Later Norse culture was very bound up with
the vikings and it is likely that the Goddesses were deemphasized at
this point. More importantly, virtually all the mythology we have
today was recorded during the Christian period and Christian culture
had little respect for women, least of all independent and strong
women like those of Nordic society.
Freya is the most important of the Goddesses or at least that Goddess
about which we known the most. She was the sister of Frey and along
with him was sent to live with the Aesir in order to seal a peace
agreement. Freya is a Goddess with two distinct sides to her. First,
she is the Goddess of love and beauty and second a Goddess of war who
shares the battle-slain with Odin. Unlike our modern culture, the
ancients saw no contradiction in this. She was also a sorceress who
practiced the shamanic magick known as Seidhr, which she taught to
Odin. Freya is the Goddess most often invoked by independent women.
While she is a Goddess of beauty, she is not dependent on men as is
the stereotype of so many love Goddesses, but is strong and fiercely
independent. She is also known as the Great Dis and probably has
connections to the family spirits known as the Disir. In many ways
she is like Odin in that she is a Goddess of many functions which are
not always obviously related. In modern Asatru, many groups have
replaced Frey with Freya to stand with Odin and Thor on the altar.
Frigg is a most misunderstood Goddess. She is the wife of Odin and
many people are too willing to let her be known simply as that.
However, the old Norse had a much different idea of the place of women
and of marriage in general. While marriages for love were certainly
known, marriage was also a business and social arrangement and there
were important duties for a wife. These were symbolized by a set of
keys which hung at the belt of all .goodwives.. This symbolized that
the home was under the control of the woman of the house, who was
equal to her husband. Today we think these duties as very minor, but
a thousand years ago they were far from trivial. Up until this
century most of Europe lived in extended families. A house,
especially a hall of a warrior, was not merely a small building with a
nuclear family, but an entire settlement with outbuildings, servants,
slaves, and an entire clan. The wife of the house was in charge of
stores and trading with other clans. It was she that saw to the
upkeep of the farm, the balancing of the books, and even to the
farming itself if her husband was away trading or making war. It was
as much a job of managing a business as it was being a .wife.. For
these reasons Frigg is still very important and can easily be invoked
beyond the home. She would, for example, be a natural patron for
someone who owned a business. Frigg also shares a lot of
characteristics with her husband. She is the only other God who is
allowed to sit in Odin.s seat from which can be seen all that goes on
in the nine worlds. It is said that she knows the future, but remains
silent, which is entirely in keeping with the way women of the time
exercised their power: namely indirectly. While in a better world
this might not be necessary, it is still an important tool for women
who must exist in a world where men are sometimes threatened by them.
While Freya is a Goddess who acts independent of .traditional. roles,
Frigg is a Goddess who works within those roles, but still maintains
her power and independence.
There are of course many other Gods and Goddesses. Some of these have
important places in the myths, while some others are mentioned only
once along with their function.
The most perplexing God of Asgard is Loki. He was probably originally
a fire God, but he is best known as the troublemaker of Asgard. In
various minor scrapes Loki arranges to get the Gods into trouble,
usually by giving away their treasures and then arranging to return
them. This is very much in the traditional role of a trickster, who
keeps things interesting by causing trouble. However, it.s sometimes
difficult to see Loki merely as a trickster because his actions are
sometimes simply too evil to be ignored. Balder was the most
beautiful and beloved of the Gods and a pledge was extracted from all
the things in the world that they would not harm him. The sole
exception to this was the mistletoe which was deemed too tiny to be a
threat. Amused by his invulnerability, the Gods took turns throwing
objects at Balder, which of course had no effect on him. Loki took
the blind God Hod and put a spring of mistletoe in his hands and
guided him to throw it. The dart pierced Balder.s breast and he died.
Later a deal was arranged wherein Balder would be allowed to return to
life if all the creatures of the world would weep for him. Only one
refused, an ogress who said she cared not a whit for Balder when he
was alive and thought him just as well off dead. The ogress is
believed to have been Loki in disguise. For these actions Loki was
chained beneath the earth and it was arranged that venom would drip
upon him in punishment that would last until the end of the world.
With the death of Balder, Loki goes beyond the level of trickster and
becomes a truly evil figure. It is known that when Ragnarok comes,
Loki will lead the legions of chaos against the Aesir and bring about
the end of the world.
Indeed Loki.s actions certainly do seem harsh, but they are entirely
in keeping with the Norse way of looking at things. One of the
functions of a trickster God is to keep things going. The trickster
causes trouble so that people may evolve, for nothing brings about
ingenuity like need. The Norse did not believe anything was eternal.
The Gods were mortal and only maintained their youth through the
magick of Idunna.s apples. In the end they would die in the battle of
Ragnarok which would destroy the world. Balder.s invulnerability was
not natural. As the Edda says .Cattle die, and men die, and you too
shall die.... It was deemed much more wise and valiant by the Norse to
live up to one.s fate than to try to avoid it. Likewise to return
from the dead would be equally wrong. It.s against nature for
something to be impervious to harm or for the dead to return to life.
Loki was merely acting as the agent of nature to return things to
their normal and correct course. It was not an act of evil, but an
intervention to stop an evil against the natural order. Likewise
Ragnarok must come. It is in the nature of the world to be destroyed
and then be reborn. Loki is merely acting as an agent of fate:
exactly the function which a trickster is supposed to perform.
On the other hand, as far as we know Loki was not worshipped, at least
not in the same way as the other Gods were. Recognition of his action
and his place in the universe is essential, but Gods of this type are
seldom welcome. It is .fashionable. today to laugh at trickster Gods
and see them as a sort of jester figure, but we must not forget that
their nature is much darker than this even when it does serve a
purpose. Change is important, but nothing changes the world faster
and more thoroughly than war.
While seldom reckoned today among the most popular of the Gods, Tyr is
extremely important. He is the God of battle, of justice, and
(secondary to Odin) of Kingship. The most important myth concerning
Tyr shows both his bravery and honor. He gave his hand as surety to
the Fenris Wolf that no trickery was involved in the Gods binding of
him. When the fetter in fact did bind the wolf, Tyr lost his hand.
The honor and reliance on ones word is often overlooked in this myth
in favor of an interpretation of self sacrifice. However, throughout
the myths various deals are made and the Aesir easily get out of them.
It.s likely that Tyr could have escaped his fate as well, but one.s
word is one.s word and thus Tyr lost his hand. Tyr was held to be the
God of the Thing or assembly. While the ancient Norse were not truly
democratic and in fact held slaves, within the noble class all were
reckoned to be roughly equal. The Thing was a place where the
landholders would meet for trade and to iron out disputes among them,
in the hope of avoiding feuds. Tyr was originally the chieftain of
the Aesir and the God of Kingship, but he has been gradually
supplanted by Odin, especially during the Viking Age. It is likely
this was because of Tyr.s strong sense of honor and justice. For
raiding and pillaging, Odin, the God of the berserker rage, was a much
better patron than Tyr, the God of honorable battle. This is an
important thing to note about Northern religion: it is extremely
adaptable. There are not hard and fast rules about who is what and
while the nature of the Gods cannot be changed they are more than
happy to have the aspects most important to their worshippers
emphasized. Just as a person uses different skills and .becomes a
different person. when they move or change jobs, so the Gods too have
adapted to new climates and needs.
While we only know the myth of Balder.s death, it is clear that he was
a God of some importance. Unfortunately, modern writers, coming from
a Christian background, have tried to turn Balder into a Christ
figure. Balder was a God of beauty and goodness, but his name also
translates as .warrior.. It is a mistake to turn him into a .Norse
Jesus.. The mere fact that he died and will return after Ragnarok is
not enough for this equation. Another interpretation of Balder is
that of the dying and resurrected God of the Sun. This also seems a
mistake, as Balder does not return from the land of death. It makes a
poor symbol to honor Balder on solar holidays, lest the sun not
return! The remaining major interpretation of Balder is as a God of
mystic initiation. While this fits to some extent, we unfortunately
no longer know. The equation with Christ has wiped out a great deal
of lore about Balder and we are left to rediscover his place in our
Of the other important Gods, Heimdall is the guardian of Asgard. He,
as Rig, is also one of the Gods who fathered mankind. Njord is the
God of sailing and sailors. Unless one travels on the sea, he is
probably of little importance to you, but if one does sail, he is your
natural patron. If Njord is the God of sailing and of man.s use of
the sea, then Aegir is the God of the sea itself. He is married to
Ran who takes drowned sailors to her home after their death. Aegir is
considered to be the greatest of brewers, and our kindred honors him
in a special holiday due to the importance of mead in our modern
religion. Bragi is a much overlooked God who is the patron of
taletellers and bards. Other Gods more or less overlooked in the
myths include Forseti, who renders the best judgments, Ull, a God of
hunting who is the male counter to Skadi, Vithar, the son of Thor who
is as strong as his father, Vali, Odin.s son who will avenge his
fathers death at Ragnarok, and Hod, the blind God who was led to slay
While we might say that certain Gods are more important than others,
this is in many ways not accurate. We would be better served to say
that some are more popular. The Norse concept of the relationship
between men and Gods was one of friendship. A man would honor all the
Gods as worthy and existent, but would usually find one as his special
patron. It is not surprising, considering this, that Thor is the most
popular of Gods. If the average person was searching for a God very
much like himself, Thor would be the obvious choice. Likewise, a God
such as Njord would have been extremely important to sailors and
fishermen, but would have been almost completely unimportant as a
patron to inlanders. The less well known Gods are just as powerful as
their more well known contemporaries, they merely have power over a
less well known aspect of life.
There are also many Goddesses other than Frigg and Freya, but we know
very little of them. Eir was said to be the greatest of healers, and
is for this reason very important. There is no healer God as the
ancients held that medicine was a craft for women and not for men, but
modern male healers should certainly invoke her. While Skadi has a
very small part in the myths, many modern Asafolk find her a
compelling figure. She is the snow-shoe Goddess, who travels in the
isolated mountains hunting with her bow. She is married to Njord, but
they are separated as Njord can.t abide the mountains, and Skadi can.t
sleep in Njord.s hall where she is kept awake by the pounding of the
sea. She is an excellent role model for women who work alone and who
are independently minded. Oaths are sworn to the Goddess Var, but
little else is known of her. Lofn might some day be of importance to
you, she is known to bring together lovers who are kept apart by
I have merely touched upon the Gods here. It is important for
everyone who would practice the religion of the North to get to know
the myths and the Gods. An appendix is included which outlines
various sources for more information.
Elves & Other Spirits
The world of ancient Paganism was hardly limited to the worship of the
Gods. There are various other beings who were honored, and .Elf
worship. was often the hardest part of Paganism for Christians to
destroy. It was easy enough to substitute one God for another, but it
was quite another to tell the common people that the elves which
brought fertility to the land were not real!
In the various folktales and sagas we find very little which would
lead us to a concrete system of what spirit was responsible for
exactly what. We are sure of the place of the Valkyries, who were
responsible for bringing the slain to Valhalla, and also for choosing
who in battle would die. They seem, judging by their actions, to be
supernatural beings of some type. However, Valkyries appear in
various places as very human figures and their exact nature is
difficult to determine. Sigrdrifa was a Valkyrie who was cursed by
Odin because she refused to bring victory in battle to those whom he
had chosen. Her punishment was to be married to a mortal, and the
implication is clear that this would end her days as a Valkyrie. It.s
equally clear that she has great knowledge of the runes as she tutors
Sigurd after he awakens her. In most respects she seems to be a
normal human woman, although a very wise and independent one with
great powers. Elsewhere, Voland and his brothers are said to have
found three Valkyries sunning themselves without their swan-coats.
When the brothers steal their feather-coats and hide them, the
Valkyries again appear as otherwise normal women. This does not seem
entirely in keeping with a supernatural origin, and it.s possible that
some kind of magickal order of Priestesses has become confused over
time with the supernatural beings we know as Valkyries. The swan-coat
seems very similar in description to Freya.s falcon-coat and the
entire issue may be something related to the practice of seidhr. As
far as we know, the Valkyrie were not worshipped as such, but were
considered more the messengers of Odin. They also serve the mead at
Valhalla, and because of this whoever pours the mead into the Horn at
Blot or Sumbel is today known as .the Valkyrie..
The other spirits whose place seems fairly clear are the Disir. These
are spirits who are intimately linked with a family. There is also
some indication that they are linked with the land, but this would be
in keeping with the old ways. We forget sometimes that many
landowners in Europe have been living in the same place since before
this continent was discovered. The land becomes an intimate part of
the family and its identity, so it is natural that family spirits
would also oversee the family land. Disir inevitably are seen as
women who appear at times of great trouble or change. They are
somehow linked to the family bloodline, and seem most closely linked
to the clanchief. There is one scene in one saga where a spirit,
apparently a Dis, is passed on from one person to another who are not
blood relations. However, these two friends are closer than brothers,
so while the link is apparently not genetic, it is definitely
familial. We know the family Disir were honored with blots at the
Winter Nights and that they have great power to aid their family. As
far as their origin, it.s possible that they are ancestral in origin.
They may be ancestors whose power was so great that they were able to
continue to see to their clan. Or it.s possible that the Disir are
the collective spirit of the family ancestors. Freya is called the
great Dis and there may be some linkage here to her position as a
seidhrwoman. We know from the sagas that Seidhr was involved with
talking to various spirits (including the dead) and its possible that
this is the source of Freya.s name. It is also possible that she
performed much the same function as a Dis to her tribe the Vanir.
Closely linked to the idea of the Disir is the Fylgia. These spirits
are attached to an individual person in much the same way that the
Disir are associated with a family. Fylgia usually appear either as
animals or as beautiful women. They correspond to the .fetch,.
.totem,. or .power-animal. in other cultures. Most of the time the
fylgia remains hidden and absent, it is only with truly great or
powerful persons that the fylgia becomes known. They may have
something to do with Seidhr as well, because many sagas offer evidence
of spirit travel in the shape of animals. This corresponds exactly to
notions of shamanism found in other cultures.
The remaining spirits include Alvar or elves, Dokkalvar or dark elves
or Dwarfs, kobolds, and landvaettir. While some have defined one
being as doing one thing and another serving a different function, I.m
not inclined to draw very sharp distinctions between these various
creatures. They all seem .elfish. in origin, and there seems to me to
be no pattern of associating one name with a specific function. We
know that various landvaettir or land spirits were honored with blots.
We also know that Frey is the lord of Alfheim, one of the nine worlds
where the alvar are said to live.
Of all the remaining spirits, the dwarfs are the most consistent in
description. We know that the dwarfs are cunning and misanthropic in
character and incredible smiths, capable of creating magickal objects
so valuable they are considered the greatest treasures of Asgard.
Thor.s hammer Mjolnir, Freya.s necklace Brisingamen, and Sif.s golden
hair are all creations of the dwarfs. They live beneath the earth and
have little to do with mankind or the Gods unless one seeks them out.
What place they had in the religion we no longer know. It would seem
wise to invoke them as spirits of the forge, but I can think of little
other reason to disturb them.
Elves are the most difficult magickal race to pin down. Mythological
sources tell us that the Alvar or light elves live in Alfheim where
Frey is their Lord. However, we also have the enduring belief in
folklore of the elves as faery-folk: beings associated with the
natural world. These two conceptions of elves might still be linked,
however, as Alfheim is known to be a place of incredible natural
beauty, and Frey, their leader, is an agricultural deity. To further
confuse this issue, Norse folklore has a strong belief in the
Landvaettir, or land spirits who may fit into either or both of these
categories. I.m inclined to lump them all together as similar beings
that we simply don.t know enough about to tell apart. What is
important is that Asatru, like all Pagan religions, honors the natural
world and the earth very deeply. Whether one calls the spirits of the
land as the elves, the faeries, or the landvaettir, or uses all of
these terms interchangably, respect is all important. Asatru is known
for being one of the most politically .conservative. of the modern
Pagan religions, but you.ll find few of us who aren.t staunch
One of the most important spirits to honor is the house-spirit.
Folklore is also filled with stories of various spirits variously
called faeries, elves, kobolds, brownies, tom-tin, etc who inhabit a
house and see to its proper conduct. In the usual form of the tale,
they offer to perform some housekeeping functions, but eventually turn
on the owners of the house when they are insulted by overpayment. We
don.t have any concrete evidence for how our ancestors honored these
beings, but this is not surprising because such a thing would not be a
public observance and it.s unlikely it would be recorded in the sagas
or Eddas. Folklore indicates that such beings should be honored with
a simple bowl of milk or perhaps beer, but no more.
In general folklore does not paint the various elves and spirits as
particularly benevolent figures. With the exception of house spirits,
who as spirits of a manmade object are bound to us on some level, they
seem most interested in staying out of the dealings of mankind. There
are numerous stories of people who spy upon elf women and force them
to become their brides. Inevitably the women are unhappy and
eventually escape, leaving their husbands devastated. There are also
numerous stories of spirits who haunt the woods and who will drag
wayward travelers into rivers to drown or to some other untimely
death. When people do have dealings with the elves these beings seem
to operate on an entirely different set of expectations than we do.
Most of us would be gratified by the gift of a .bonus. from our
employer, yet time and time again in folklore this is the easiest way
to anger a house spirit. We know that elves were honored with blots,
but it.s just as possible that these ceremonies were made in
propitiation to them rather than in kinship as are our blots made with
the Gods. We suggest caution in dealing with beings with a set of
values so foreign from our own. They should be approached in the same
way one would approach a person from a country whose ways are very
In general, we.re also very reticent to make decisions about
classifying the various .other peoples.. It would be very easy to draw
lines and place certain spirits into little boxes which label their
function, but that seems overly mechanical and of little utility.
Elves and other .wights. are not human, and it might be too much to
try to classify them in other than subjective terms. It.s probably
best to simply make your intent clear, experiment, and use the terms
which work for you, remembering only to be true to the sources.
There are a whole classification of Gods which are not truly part of
the Aesir, Vanir, or even the Jotunn. Wayland the Smith is the best
example of this that we can offer. Wayland, called Volund in the
Norse version, is the greatest of smiths, but it.s clear in the
mythology that he was more or less a human man. The myth tells of how
he lost his wife and was enslaved by a human King. While his powers
allow him to outwit and take vengeance on the king, it.s clear
throughout that he.s not on the level of a Thor or an Odin. What one
does about these demi-Gods or local Gods is a good question. I see
nothing wrong with pouring a blot in their honor and dealing with them
as you would any other God or Goddess. On the other hand, they are
not part of the Aesir and I think it might be disrespectful to honor
them with the Aesir or as part of a ceremony dedicated to the Aesir as
they seem of a different nature.
Honoring ones ancestors was one of the most sacred duties of the
Norsemen. One of the most important parts of greeting new people was
the exchanging of personal lineages at sumbel. The worship of the
Disir is closely linked to ancestor worship. However, it is difficult
for modern day Pagans to seriously engage in ancestor worship. We are
for the most part without a strong connection to our heritage, and
even if we feel motivated we would probably need to skip at least a
thousand years back to find ancestors who would not have been appalled
by our Heathen beliefs. One substitution for ancestor worship in the
modern Asatru movement has been the veneration of heros from the Sagas
and legends of our people.
The manner of how we honor ancestors is also somewhat troubling. I
reserve the blot ritual to Gods and other powers, and I.m not sure if
it.s appropriate to pour a blot to an ancestor, no matter how
important he was. It.s touchy when you are honoring someone that you
knew was a mortal. I think the most important part of ancestor
worship is remembering, and the sumbel seems the most important part
While we discuss ancestry, I must mention that some modern Asatru
groups, in part because of holdovers from 19th century cultural
movements, have placed a great deal of emphasis on ancestry in terms
of race. Many have held that Asatru was a religion for whites or
Northern Europeans only. In my not particularly humble opinion, this
is pure idiocy. The basic argument for this is that people of other
cultures do not share the same background and values. This is
certainly true, but the key word in my opinion is culture, and all
Americans by definition share a culture. Also, while I admit I would
think it doubtful that people from outside of our own cultural
heritage would be attracted greatly to Asatru, if they are it is for a
reason and they should be welcomed and not shunned. It proves the
worth of our religion and way of life that it is so strong that one
would leave his own cultural path behind to take up ours.
As far as culture is concerned, the ancestry of the ancient North is
alive and well in modern America. A thousand years ago settlers
sailed to Iceland to avoid the growing influence of powerful kings and
centralized government. This centralization of power was one of the
things which Roman Christianity brought with it. Two hundred years
ago we in America rebelled against our king for much the same reasons.
Our culture is much more profoundly influenced by the Vikings than
most would care to admit. Our law is based on English common law,
which in turn has roots in Norman and Saxon law. (Both the Saxons and
Normans were descended from Germanic tribes.) Our culture is based on
many of the same ideas which the Northmen held dear: the importance of
the individual and the belief that individual rights outweighed
collective rights. Thus, it is my assertion that we are all
descended, at least in part, spiritually from the ancient Norse.
The Jotunn or giants are the sworn enemies of the Gods. While the
Aesir represent order and the Vanir represent the supportive powers of
nature, the Jotunn represent chaos and the power of nature to destroy
man and act independent of humankind. In the end, it is the Jotunn
who will fight the Gods at Ragnarok and bring about the destruction of
In essence despite being called Giants or Ogres, the Jotunn are Gods
just as much as the Aesir or Vanir. In many cases they correspond
very closely to the Fomoire in Celtic mythology. Most simply put, the
Jotunn are the Gods of all those things which man has no control over.
The Vanir are the Gods of the growing crops, the Jotunn are the Gods
of the river which floods and washes away those crops or the tornado
which destroys your entire farm. This is why they are frightening and
this is why we hold them to be evil.
The Jotunn are not worshipped in modern Asatru, but there is some
evidence that sacrifices were made to them in olden times. In this
case, sacrifices were probably made .to them. rather than shared .with
them. as was the case with the Vanir and Aesir. It would be
inappropriate to embrace them as friends and brothers in the way we
embrace our Gods. One doesn.t embrace the hurricane or the wildfire;
it is insanity to do so. However, we must also remember that fact
that we see their actions as bad, they are not inherently evil. The
storm destroys the crops, but it also brings cleansing and renewal.
We humans are only one species on this planet and in the end we are
both expendable and irrelevant to nature. This is the manner in which
the Jotunn act, and it is not surprising that we see this as evil.
However, one must also take into account the premonitions of Ragnarok
recorded in the eddas. If the Jotunn are merely amoral, why are they
the sworn enemy of the Aesir and why will they bring about the end of
the world? It.s possible that Jotunn was more of a catch-all term for
dangerous Gods rather than a reference to a specific family. (It is
the case in many languages that there is one word for people that
speak the language, usually translating as .people,. and another term
for those persons of other cultures and tribes.) The dangerous forces
of nature are .Jotunn. because we cannot control them, but there are
other forces, principally those of chaos, that are considered .Jotunn.
There is abundant evidence for this in the Eddas. Various Jotunn are
seen to marry into the Aesir without a great deal of trouble from the
Gods, but at other times the mere sight of one throws Thor into a
rage. The obvious conclusion is that they are more than one specific
race of deities. The destructive powers of nature were tolerated to
some extent, and often married into the Aesir bringing them more under
control. However, other .outlander. Gods were completely destructive
to the Aesir (and thus mankind) and the Gods only thought for them was
The Religious Structure of Asatru
The ancients, for the most part, did not have an organized system of
Temples or churches in the way that our society does today. Religion
was a very personal affair, mostly between the Gods and their
worshippers. If there was a formalized temple or perhaps a grove that
was dedicated to the Gods and tended as a temple it was most likely
built by a wealthy landowner and dedicated to his or her patron God.
Such a person would then, usually, become the Gothi (Priest) or Gythia
(Priestess) of the temple. Such temples were generally maintained by
the family after the builders death, the title being more or less
inherited by whomever was lord over the land.
Today most Asatru groups are similarly unstructured. This has been a
problem because there is little in the way of religious education
other than in books such as this one and personal research. While
this sort of learning is fine, there are always some things left out
and I.m sure that mine will be no exception. There are a few groups
who are attempting to initiate training programs and present sets of
standards for people who would declare themselves to be Gothi or
Gythia, but these groups have unfortunately been somewhat inflexible
and dogmatic, seeming more interested in creating hierarchies than
with service to the Folk or Gods.
Gothi is a honorary title only. It does not mark any administrative
power or rank within Asatru. One would probably not call oneself
Gothi unless one had some experience of deity and had led many
rituals, but as it entails power over no one and it is up to no one to
comment on ones qualifications or abilities. Similarly there is no
need for someone to be a Gothi or to have access to one in order to
practice our faith. While the more experienced might get more things
.right. in the ritual, this is purely subjective and if your heart is
true to the Gods this is enough.
Most persons who were given the title Gothi in the old days were
dedicated to a single God. The title most often formed their last
name: Thorolf Thorsgothi for example. This dedication to a God or
Goddess was usually part of one.s family heritage and was passed down
to your children. While there is no compelling reason why one cannot
act as Priest to the entire community of Gods and Goddesses, it is
most common for one to be dedicated to a single deity. A kindred may
have persons who are each dedicated to a different deity, or it may
orient itself towards a single deity as did families in the Sagas.
The most basic unit of Asatru religious worship is the hearth or
homestead. This is nothing more than it sounds like: a household of
Asafolk who worship the old Gods and Goddesses. Several individuals
or hearths may group themselves into a .kindred,. which is a term that
has many meanings to many different groups. Some kindreds have many
members and function like mainstream churches, others are more
familylike and attempt to hold to their privacy. The place of a
kindred is more or less analogous to a clan or small tribal group. A
kindred is made up of people you are familiar with and with whom you
meet in person and in it.s best sense it.s an organic grouping,
however it.s not the same sort of bonding that one would find in a
single family or even in an extremely close knit group of friends. In
a true Pagan society, the kindred would be found on the level of a
farmstead or small village.
The ritual blots are most commonly done on the level of the kindred,
or in meetings where more than one kindred comes together. The
rituals of a Hearth might be less formalized and more .homey. in
atmosphere. The blot ritual is based on a religious observance that
was part of the official public aspect of ancient Asatru, and its
likely that there were many other private rituals that would not
necessarily be appropriate for a kindred to take part in together.
For example, a kindred might not honor the individual family Dis or
the house-spirits unless all members of the kindred lived together or
were tied by blood as well as companionship.
Most persons will want to join or found a kindred in their area,
however, before one runs out and begins to solicit people, you should
think about what you are doing. The very name of our groupings,
.kindred,. implies a great deal more than does membership in a church.
Today we are accustomed to religious institutions that are more or
less anonymous and sterile. A kindred should not be this way. While
we must be open to all, we need not act as if we were a public
facility with no more intimacy than a department store. It is best to
start small and gather people as they come to you. Once you are
established, get involved in the local Pagan community if you are not
already. Attend a few events of the local Leif Erikson society or the
Sons of Norway. Open one of your blots to the public and take note of
people who are attracted to Asatru. A kindred is something which
should form organically and cannot be pushed. On the other hand,
Asatru is not a secret religion or one open only to .initiates. as
many Neo-Pagan faiths are. We must be open to outsiders who are truly
interested. I am just cautioning against throwing people into a
kindred because they are available or it is the only group around or
they are too polite to say no. A roommate of mine related to me a
conversation he had with another person at an Asatru gathering. The
person remarked that .this is all very nice, but when do you think Joe
will get tired of this stuff.. My roommate being a seriously committed
Heathen straightened him out. The person in question was just a
friend of Joe.s who went to Pagan events because of Joe.s interest.
He assumed that the rest of the group was .humoring Joe. just as he
was. The moral of this story is that if people are not interested,
there.s nothing you can do about it. We.re not the Christians who
want anybody and everybody to join our faith, and we should pay just
as much attention to dissuading the dabblers and the kooks as we do to
attracting those who truly do have the love of the Old Gods in their
As to what makes one a Gothi, the requirements would vary from group
to group. Some might have written criteria, while others might leave
it up to the persons heart. Certainly a Gothi is one who has a long
term relationship with the Gods and Goddesses. One does not, for
example, simply read this book and then proclaim oneself Gothi! (I am
writing this book and don.t consider myself to be a Gothi.) A
competent Gothi should have studied the Eddas and Sagas and know the
history of our religion. He or she should also know a bit about the
runes, and the other mysteries of our tradition. One should also note
that this is a public office and the Gothi of old had responsibilities
as leaders of the community. Most importantly one must be sincerely
dedicated. There.s no push to move to a .higher. level of the
Priesthood as there are in religions or magickal orders with .degree
systems. and if you do not feel compelled to take on the
responsibilities of being a Gothi or Gythia, there is no need for you
to and much to say that you should not.
The Values of Asatru
One of the basic functions of a religion is to offer a set of values
on which mankind is to base it's actions. This, sadly, is one area
where Paganism has often failed. The cult of anti-values has held
sway, taking moral relativism to extremes perhaps even farther from
common sense than fundamentalist moral legalism, even to the point
where I have heard rape, murder, and genocide defended on the basis of
However, values remain important. All one needs to do is look at the
morning paper to see the results of a society that has in many ways
embraced the cult of anti-values. Thievery, murder, and plunder exist
in our cities to extents which would have appalled our ancestors.no
matter how many times they went a' Viking. While this is hardly what
the Pagans who have embraced the cult of anti-values had in mind, it
is to my belief a natural outgrowth of the same basic philosophical
concept. The chaos in our country is the dark shadow of the modern
rejection of moral legalism. What should have been an evolution from
a legalistic moral/religious culture to one of flexible honor based
values and self-responsibility has instead become a morass of chaos
and immorality. The lesson we should all learn is that while there is
no definitive list of sins; right and wrong still exist.
As usual Asatru offers a sensible solution. Our faith deals not in
legalisms and rules nor in unchecked chaos and relativism. We instead
acknowledge the existence of right and wrong, good and evil, but we
deal with actions according to basic philosophical concepts that are
applied by the keen intellect of Odin, the simple common sense of
Thor, and the solid honor of Tyr.the gifts of the Gods to us.
Asatru posits that the basic place of moral judgment is within the
human heart and mind. We as human beings with the gift of
intelligence are sensible and responsible enough to determine right
from wrong and act accordingly. The Gods teach us through the
examples of their lives, as chronicled in the Eddas, and through
various pieces such as the Havamal which directly offer us advice. In
the modern history of our faith, various Asatru organizations have
outlined simple sets of values which they hold up as simple guidelines
on how to live ones life.
The Odinic Rite (the major Asatru group in England) has one of the
most cohesive and sensible of all those we've seen and this set has
been adopted by the Raven Kindred as an "official" statement of our
beliefs. We do this not only as a moral guide for our members, but
also to say to the world what it is that we stand for.our good name in
the community being important to us. Finally, this list is used when
someone formally joins the Raven Kindred and we hold a sumble and
toast the 9 virtues to the new member in the hope that they will apply
them to their life.
The Odinic Rite lists the 9 Noble Virtues as Courage, Truth, Honor,
Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance, and
It would be hard to get much argument on any of these values from
anyone. They simply and briefly encapsulate the broad wisdom of our
Gods and ancestors.
In virtually every statement of values applied to Asatru, Courage is
listed first. As Stephen McNallen has said, courage and bravery are
perhaps the values which the Vikings are best known for. However,
despite our history, few of us face such turmoil as a literal battle
for ones life. In fact, I believe it might be easier to manifest
courage in such a situation than to do so in the many smaller day to
day occurrences in which courage is called for.
The most common of these occurrences for modern Pagans, is the courage
to acknowledge and live ones beliefs. It is also, sadly, the one that
we most often fail at. While we may often be full of the type of
courage that would lead us to face a shield wall, many of us quake at
the thought of the topic of religion coming up at the office or a
friend asking what church we attend. We won't offer easy answers, but
we ask this: if you toast the courage of your ancestors to fight and
die for what they believed in, can you trade away your religious
identity for a higher salary or social acceptance?
In an essay on values there is also the question of moral courage.
The way of Tyr is difficult.to lose ones hand for ones beliefs.but,
Tyr thought the price worth paying. In a million ways modern society
challenges our values, not just as Asatruar who are estranged from
mainstream religious practice, but for religious people in an
increasingly not just secular, but anti-religious culture. Values are
also not in favor in modern society. Breaking or getting around the
rules is encouraged to get ahead. Living honorably is simply too
inconvenient. I think most people, Asatru or otherwise, find this
repugnant, but the only way to change it is to have the courage to
refuse to take part in it.
The second virtue, that of Truth, is the one that most led our kindred
to embrace the Odinic Rite's statement of values as our own. Early in
our discussions, we decided that no matter what values we chose to
hold out as our own, truth must be among them. It is a word that
holds so much in its definition, and includes such a wide variety of
moral and philosophical beliefs that we were all drawn to it as a
simple statement of what we stood for.
At least one of the reasons we wanted to adopt it was the simple issue
of honesty. As Bill Dwinnels said at a recent sumbel while toasting
truth and honesty: if you don't want people to know about something,
don't do it. Truth, in the sense of honesty, is essential to personal
honor and also to any system or morality that is not based on rigid
legalism. If one is to uphold an honor code, one must be brutally
honest with oneself and with others.
Truth is also the Truth that comes with a capital T.the kind of Truth
that one talks about in terms of religion or morality. It's common to
talk of different peoples having different "truths," but it's equally
important to remember that while we acknowledge that each person or
people has their own belief as to what Truth is or where to find it,
there finally is a single Truth. This is not the Truth as we believe
it, but ultimate Truth. While we may respect other people's .truths.
and seek our own, we must never forget our search for The Truth. Like
the Holy Grail of Christian legend, it may never be ours to reach, but
when we cease to search we perish.
Honor is the basis for the entire Asatru moral rationale. If anything
comes out in the Eddas and Sagas it is that without honor we are
nothing. We remember two types of peoples from ancient times: those
whose honor was so clean that they shine as examples to us and those
who were so without honor that their names are cursed a thousand years
after they lived. Good Asatruar should always strive to be among the
However, honor is not mere reputation. Honor is an internal force
whose outward manifestation is reputation. Internal honor is the
sacred moral compass that each Asatruar and God should hold dear. It
is the inner dwelling at peace which comes from living in accordance
with ones beliefs and with ones knowledge of the Truth of what one is
doing. It is something deeply personal and heartfelt, almost akin to
an emotion. It's a .knowing. that what one is doing is right and
decent and correct.
In many ways while the most important of all the virtues it is also
the most ephemeral in terms of description. It is all the other
virtues rolled together and then still more. The best way I have
found to describe honor is that if you are truly living with honor,
you will have no regrets about what you have done with your life.
Fidelity is a word that is far too often defined by it's narrow use in
terms of marital fidelity. By the dictionary it simply means being
faithful to someone or something. In marriage this means being true
to ones vows and partner, and this has been narrowly defined as
limiting ones sexual experience to ones spouse. While I have found
this to be great practical advice, many treat fidelity as if there
were no other ways in which one could be faithful or unfaithful.
For we Asatruar fidelity is most important in terms of our faith and
troth to the Gods. We must remain true to the Aesir and Vanir and to
our kinsmen. Like marriage, Profession (the rite in which one enters
the Asatru faith, similar to Christian confirmation or Wiccan
initiation) is a sacred bond between two parties; in this case an
Asatruar and the Gods. In order for such a relationship to work, both
must be honest and faithful to each other.
Asatru, although currently being reborn, is at its roots a folk
religion and we also uphold the value of fidelity to the ways of our
ancestors. This is why historical research is so important to the
Asatru-folk: it is the rediscovering of our ancient ways and our
readoption of them.
In any discussion of the values of Asatru, discipline is best
described as self-discipline. It is the exercise of personal will
that upholds honor and the other virtues and translates impulse into
action. If one is to be able to reject moral legalism for a system of
internal honor, one must be willing to exercise the self-discipline
necessary to make it work. Going back to my earlier criticism of
society, if one rejects legalism, one must be willing to control ones
own actions. Without self-discipline, we have the mess we currently
see in our culture.
Looking at discipline in terms of fidelity, we see a close connection.
Many Pagans go from faith to faith, system to system, path to path.
Asatruar are much less likely to do this. The discipline of keeping
faith with our Gods and the ways of our ancestors is part of our
modern practice. In this way, we limit ourselves in some ways, but we
gain much more in others.
Hospitality is simply one of the strongest core values at the heart of
virtually every ancient human civilization. In a community/folk
religion such as our own, it is the virtue that upholds our social
fabric. In ancient times it was essential that when a traveler went
into the world he could find some sort of shelter and welcome for the
night. In modern times it is just as essential that a traveler find
friendship and safety.
In our modern Asatru community, we need to treat each other with
respect and act together for the good of our community as a whole.
This functions most solidly on the level of the kindred or hearth
where nonfamilial members become extremely close and look out for
each other. It can mean hospitality in the old sense of taking in
people, which we've done, but in modern times it's more likely to mean
loaning someone a car or a bit of money when they need it (that's
need, not want).
Part of hospitality is treating other people with respect and dignity.
Many of our Gods are known to wander the world and stop in at people's
houses, testing their hospitality and generosity. The virtue of
hospitality means seeing people as if they were all individuals with
self-respect and importance. Or perhaps from time to time, they are
literally the Gods in human form. This has profound implications for
social action in our religion. Our response to societal problems such
as poverty (that's poverty folks, not laziness) is in many ways our
modern reaction to this ancient virtue.
In terms of our modern community as a whole, I see hospitality in
terms of frontier "barn raisings" where a whole community would come
together and pool their resources. This doesn't mean we have to
forget differences, but we must put them aside for those who are of
our Folk, and work for our common good.
Modern Asatruar must be industrious in their actions. We need to work
hard if we are going to achieve our goals. There is so much for us to
do. We've set ourselves the task of restoring Asatru to it's former
place as a mainstream faith and by doing so reinvigorating our society
and culture. We can't do this by sitting on our virtues, we need to
make them an active part of our behavior. Industry also refers to
simple hard work in our daily vocations, done with care and pride.
Here's a few concrete examples. If you are reading this and don't
have a kindred, why not? Stop reading now. Go and place ads in the
appropriate local stores, get your name on the Ring of Troth, Wyrd
Network, or Asatru Alliance networking lists, and with other Pagan
groups. Put on a workshop. Ok, now you're back to reading and you
don't agree with what I'm saying here? Well, be industrious! Write
your own articles and arguments. Write a letter to the editor and
suggest this material be banned.better that than passivity. Get the
blood moving and go out and do it. That's how it gets done. The Gods
do not favor the lazy.
The same holds true for our non-religious lives. As Asatruar we
should offer a good example as industrious people who add to whatever
we're involved in rather than take from it. We should be the ones the
business we work in can't do without and the ones who always seem to
be able to get things done. When people think of Asatru, they should
think of people who are competent and who offer something to the
This doesn.t just apply to vocational work, but to the entire way we
live our lives. It is just as much a mentality. The Vikings were
vital people. They lived each day to its fullest and didn.t wring
their hands in doubt or hesitation. We should put the same attitude
forward in all that we do whether it is our usual vocation, devotion
to the Gods, or leisure time.
Industry brings us directly to the virtue of Self-Reliance, which is
important both in practical and traditional terms. Going back to the
general notion of this article, we are dealing with a form of morality
that is largely self-imposed and thus requires self-reliance. We rely
on ourselves to administer our own morality.
Traditionally, our folkways have always honored the ability of a man
or woman to make their own way in the world and not to lean on others
for their physical needs. This is one of the ways in which several
virtues reinforce and support each other. Hospitality cannot function
if people are not responsible enough to exercise discipline and take
care of themselves. It's for those that strive and fail or need
assistance that hospitality is intended, not for the idle who simply
won't take care of themselves.
In terms of our relationships with the Gods, self-reliance is also
very important. If we wish the Gods to offer us their blessings and
gifts, we must make ourselves worthy of them.and the Gods are most
pleased with someone who stands on their own two feet. This is one of
the reasons for the Asatru .rule. that we do not kneel to the Gods
during our ceremonies. By standing we acknowledge our relationship as
striving and fulfilled people looking for comradeship and a
relationship, rather than acting as scraelings looking for a handout
from on high. It takes very little for a God to attract a follower,
if worship simply means getting on the gravy train. We, as Asatruar,
are people who can make our own way in the world, but who choose to
seek a relationship with the Gods.
In mundane terms being self-reliant is a simple way to allow ourselves
the ability to live as we wish to. In simple economic terms, if one
has enough money in the bank one doesn't need to worry as much about
being fired due to religious discrimination. We can look a bigot in
the face and tell him just where he can put it. It's also nice to
have something in the bank to lay down as a retainer on a good lawyer
so we can take appropriate action.
On the other side of this is self-reliance in the sense of Henry David
Thoreau, who advocated a simple lifestyle that freed one from the
temptations of materialism. Again, here we are able to live as we
wish with those things that are truly important. Religious people
from all faiths have found that adjusting ones material desires to
match one's ability to meet them leaves one open for a closer
relationship with deity and a more fulfilling life. While our
ancestors were great collectors of gold goodies, they didn.t lust for
possessions in and of themselves, but for what they stood for and
could do for them. In fact, the greatest thing that could be said of
a Lord was that he was a good .Ring Giver..
Being self-reliant also means taking responsibility for ones life.
It's not just about refusing a welfare check or not lobbying for a tax
exemption, but also refusing to blame ones failures on religious
intolerance, the patriarchy, or an unfair system. The system may, in
fact, be unfair, but it's our own responsibility to deal with it.
In societal terms, we have become much too dependent on other people
for our own good. As individuals we look to the government or to
others to solve our problems and as a society we borrow billions from
our descendants to pay for today's excesses. Most problems in this
world could be solved if people just paid their own way as they went.
The final virtue is Perseverance which I think most appropriate
because it is the one that we most need to keep in mind in our living
of the other values. Our religion teaches us that the world is an
imperfect place, and nothing comes easy. We need to continue to seek
after that which we desire. In this imperfect world there are no free
lunches or easy accomplishments.especially in the subjects we have set
before ourselves. If we truly wish to build an Asatru community that
people will hold up as an example of what committed people can do,
then we must persevere through the hardships that building our
religion is going to entail. We must be willing to continue on when
we are pushed back. If one loses a job for ones religion, the answer
is not to go back and hide, but to continue until one finds a vocation
where one can more forward and live as an Asatruar should.
Finally we must persevere when we simply fail. If one's kindred falls
apart because of internal strife, one should go back and start over.
Pick up the pieces and continue on. If nobody had done this after the
disintegration of the Asatru Free Assembly, this would probably never
have been written. We must be willing to continue in the hard work of
making our religion strong.not just when it is convenient and easy to
do so, but when it gets hard, inconvenient, or just plain boring. To
accomplish without striving is to do little, but to persevere and
finally accomplish a hard fought goal brings great honor.
Essays, Raven Kindred Information, Sample Rituals & Networking
Hailing the Sun: A Sample Blot to honor Sunna at the Summer Solstice
This ritual would be ideally performed at sunrise on the day of the
summer Solstice. If possible the folk should gather while it is still
dark or even better, remain awake throughout the night in vigil. A
secondary time would be at noon on the Solstice. This ritual should
not be performed at night.
At any point in this ritual, within the realm of logic and dramatic
flow, the parts marked as Gothi and Gythia may be shared among the
folk. In addition, the parts are not necessarily sex specific, but
the terminology is used as a convenience.
Set Up: An altar should be placed in the center and the folk should
form a circle around it, leaving space in the center for the .action.
to take place. For this ritual you will need some sort of mead or
beer, a horn or chalice, an offering bowl, a hammer for consecrations,
and a wheel of some sort, preferably a wagon wheel to symbolize the
turning of the wheel of the year. Any reasonable tools may be
substituted. The Wheel is placed on the ground near the altar or on
the altar with candles around the rim (unlit).
Consecration of space
The Gothi goes to the center of the folk and forms the invocational
position of the elhaz rune, both hands in the air at a rough 45.
Gothi: We gather here to honor our sacred lady Sunna, who on this
Solstice Morning, reaches her height of power. All hail Sunna!
All: Hail Sunna!
The Gythia takes the hammer and walks to each of the four corners and
consecrates the space.
Gythia: Hammer, hallow and hold this holy stead, that it will be a
fitting place for our worship of our sacred lady Sunna! Hammar, Helga
ve thetta ok hindra alla illska!
Gythia returns hammer to altar and faces the altar.
Gythia: I consecrate and hallow this altar to the work of our sacred
lady Sunna! Here on this Solstice morning may the might of the Gods be
brought to our holy stead. May the warm light of Sunna heat our
hearts and hold our spirits.
Gothi: Our holy lady watches and waits for the blot in her honor.
All: Hail Sunna!
(At this point it would be most appropriate for a song or reading to
be performed. It should obviously be about Sunna or the sun or
something appropriate to the day.)
Gythia: Our lady Sunna is the light of knowledge, the warmth of love,
and the heat of our passion. Let us spend a moment in silence,
contemplating those things which she brings us.
Leave a few moments for silent prayers and meditation.
Gothi: Holy Sunna. Lady of the Sun. Light of the heavens. Ever
pursued and ever free. We gather to greet and welcome you and offer
you gifts on this day. We offer to you our prayers and love, our
devotion and strength, our kinship and honor.
All face the sun and form the elhaz posture.
All: Hail to thee Sunna, light of Har newly risen. She whose holy
light shone upon our ancestors of old and she who.s light will shine
upon our children. We give you hail and welcome. Fill our hearts on
this Solstice morning with your warm rays that your fires may burn in
our hearts throughout the year. Hail Sunna!
A few moments of silence are appropriate here.
Gothi: Now it is time to offer sacrifice to our holy lady.
Gythia takes horn and Gothi fills it with mead. Gythia holds horn
above her head, in the direction of the sun.
Gythia: Here is our sacrifice, the essence of our love and spirit. We
offer it to you as a token of our kinship and our love. As you drink
of it, may your power fill this holy hlaut and feed our spirits.
Gythia drinks from the horn and it is then passed around the folk,
each taking a drink, with the horn returning to the Gythia.
Gythia: Hail to thee Sunna!
Gythia pours remainder of horn into the offering bowl. Gythia and
Gothi take the bowl and evergreen sprig and walk around the folk,
sprinkling the mead to the four corners and on the folk. Finally they
return to the center and sprinkle the wheel.
Gothi: Hail the sacred wheel of the sun. Now it is the longest day of
the year and the sun is triumphant, but all changes and the wheel
Gythia lights candles on the wheel and members of the folk take it up
and parade it around the grounds. A song or chant would be
appropriate at this time. .The sun burns, the wheel turns!. for
example. Once the procession is done (this decision should be based
on the subjective feelings of those involved and not planned out) the
wheel should be returned to the altar.
Gothi & Gythia assume the invocation position
Gothi: Sacred Lady Sunna, Summer Sun now strongest. We thank you for
your blessings of warmth and light. May you reign long.
All: Hail Sunna! Hail Sunna! Hail Sunna!
Gothi takes up the hlaut bowl.
Gothi: Now our rite is ended and the sacrifice is made. The wheel
turns. To Sunna, to the Gods, to the Goddesses, and to Earth, mother
of us all, we offer this holy mead, from the Gods to the Earth To us.
From ourselves to the Earth to the Gods. Hail!
Gothi pours contents of the hlaut bowl on the ground, possibly in the
center of the wheel. If this ritual is done indoors, the libation
should be poured outside afterwards. We usually trek outside
immediately even if the ritual is an apartment. The physical action
of pouring the libation is an important psychological trigger to both
Gods and men that the ritual is over.
What Is The Raven Kindred?
The Raven Kindred is a non-incorporated religious organization
dedicated to the worship and veneration of the ancient Nordic Gods and
Goddesses and to the religion of Asatru. We are centered around the
Worcester county area of Massachusetts and Southern Maryland/suburban
D.C. areas, but have members in Western Massachusetts, the Boston
area, and Connecticut. We welcome members from other areas, including
contacts through correspondence.
The focus of the Raven Kindred is specifically the religion of Asatru.
While we honor our Pagan relations in the Wiccan community, we are
following a much different tradition. Our rituals are the blot or
offering and the sumble. Also while we are primarily involved as a
kindred in exoteric forms of worship, we have members who are
interested in seidhr, rune magic, and other esoteric pursuits within
the Nordic Tradition.
We practice a fairly conservative version of Asatru trying to keep
close to our roots in the Asatru Free Assembly and Asatru Alliance
including a tribalist sense of who we are as a Folk. However, we are
also much more progressive in our social beliefs and politics and we
welcome all persons regardless of ethnic origin, sexual preference, or
political view. We hope to be a link between the Old and the New,
holding to our dear values of Faith, Folk, and Family while discarding
the prejudices that have held our religion back.
Our goals for the future are quite far-reaching. We support the
movement to bring Asatru out of the shadows and to spread the Troth of
the Gods to all who are their natural children. More immediately we
intend to network with existing Asatru organizations, both local and
national, while also setting up other chapters of the Raven Kindred
and doing some networking on our own behalf.
Attendence at Raven Kindred rituals is essentially open, although we
reserve the right to eject anyone who is disruptive as well as the
right to hold observances that are open only to Professed Asatru or to
Kindred Members. Full membership is available only to those who have
Professed Asatru and place their membership in the Raven Kindred above
other religious commitments. Decisions about the Raven Kindred are
made by a majority vote by Full Members.
Currently the Raven Kindred holds a Blot on the first Saturday of each
month in Sturbridge Massachusetts and Wheaton Maryland. We also
gather at other seasonally appropriate times for Blots and other
For more information on the Raven Kindred, Asatru, or our services
please contact us at the following addresses:
Raven Kindred Maryland/DC; 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175; Wheaton MD
20902 Raven Kindred Massachusetts; P.O. Box 1137; Sturbridge MA
01566 Electronic mail may be sent via the internet to
Raven Kindred Ritual Outline
The Raven Kindred has developed a slightly different form of the Blot
ritual which we use. This has come to pass because of a desire for
more personal involvement as well as a smaller group of people than
would be appropriate for a major blot.
The major change, outside of a few cosmetic differences, is that we
have added a .mini sumbel. to the blot ritual in place of the
sprinkling in which we offer three rounds of toasts: the first
dedicated to the God or Goddess being honored and the remaining two to
anything the participants deem appropriate which is not inimical to
the purpose of the blot. (i.e. don.t toast the Jotnar during a
ritual to Thor.)
Setting the mood: Chant to Odin, Vili, Ve
To begin each ritual we offer a three round chant of .Odin, Vili, Ve..
This serves two purposes. First we are linking ourselves to the Gods
of creation and thus to the connections between Midgard and the Gods.
Second and perhaps more appropriately it allows people to get
themselves mentally prepared for the service.
We offer an invocation to Fire and Ice which are the central elements
of the creation of the world. We ask that the place we are meeting be
blessed and Holy for the coming of the Gods.
Statement of purpose
We far too often ignore this, but it.s a good idea to have the Gothi
or Gythia who is presiding greet the participants and state something
general about the purpose of the ritual. It need not be complicated
.We gather together today to celebrate the Winter Nights as our
ancestors did. To honor our ancestors, the Disir, and Freya the Great
Dis and to renew our bonds as a family [kindred]..
At this point one of our members usually offers up a prayer to the
Aesir and Vanir collectively to thank them for their bounty since the
last time we met and to ask their blessings upon the kindred and its
We reserve a time between the opening of the ritual and the blot
ceremony for people to offer any prayers or other invocations they
feel necessary. This is the time when we Profess new members of
Asatru. Other activities done at this time have included a kindred
member thanking Saga, the Goddess of wisdom, for her recent graduation
Invoke deity of occasion
At this point we make a point to specifically invoke and honor the
deity that we are bloting. We attempt to list as many names and or
functions of the God as possible and this serves a dual purpose in
reminding the attendees of who the God is and why we are honoring Him.
This is, however, separate from the offering.
At this point we like to remind ourselves why we are here and what the
Gods mean to us. We sit and someone either offers a spoken meditation
or more often reads a story from the mythology. While most of us
enjoy the poetic edda, we usually use a modern prose version of the
myth as it is easier to follow.
The Gothi takes up the horn and his assistant (often called .The
Valkyrie. by Asafolk) fills it with mead. The Gothi then steps to the
altar and holds the horn aloft and asks the God to partake of it and
charge it with his power.
Toast to the deity of occasion
This is when we begin to deviate substantially from the standard
Asatru blot ritual. Beginning with the Gothi the horn is raised and a
toast drunk to the God. The horn is then passed around to the Folk
and a personal toast repeated. The only rule here is that the round
is dedicated to the God invoked. Many times the toasts are personal
thanksgiving or requests for aid or wisdom.
At the end of the round the remains of the horn (and there should be
some) are poured into the blotbowl.
We then take two more rounds to toast whatever Gods, ancestors, and
beings each person wishes. There is not necessarily any continuity
from one person to the next. Brags or oaths are also appropriate at
this time. Professions, other major oaths, and major works of
thanksgiving or praise are usually done before the blot. The second
and third toasts are usually reserved for small things.
Finally we always remember to thank the deity and ask for his
continued blessings on the Folk present.
Oath Ring ceremony
Our kindred has a ceremony that affirms our dedication to each other,
to the kindred, and to the Gods. Each full Professed and accepted
Kindred member comes forward and takes hold of the oath ring. (We are
blessed in having a 6. diameter brass oath ring made for us by a
kindred member.) One person then recites a rede concerning itself with
the symbol of a ring and something which connects us to the Gods, the
Earth, and to each other.
I should repeat, only kindred Members participate in this. If you
haven.t sworn on the oath ring, you don.t take part in the ceremony.
We have enlarged this at public events to all Professed persons, but
change the rede to remove references to the kindred.
Finally we leave the Hof and pour a libation on the physical earth,
adjourning outside to do so if we are indoors. The blot hitting the
ground signals that the ritual is truly over. When we are working
indoors in a living room or other non-dedicated space I always make
sure I am the first to return and extinguish candles, turn on electric
lights, etc. This provides a good hint to people.s minds that the
ritual is, in fact, over. If we had a dedicated space, the procession
outside to pour the blot would also empty the Hof and we would adjourn
to the feast rather than returning to the temple.
Raven Kindred Calendar
The Raven Kindred meets on the first weekend of each month and for the
four major Norse holidays: Summer and Winter Finding (Spring & Fall
Equinox), Summer Solstice, and Yule. Traditional festivals which have
been moved to fit our monthly schedule have their traditional date in
parenthesis. Festivals marked with a .*. are particular to the Raven
Kindred. There are other holidays which our kindred does not meet to
celebrate, but which are recognized by Asatru and celebrated on an
individual or family basis.
1st weekend . Frig.s Distaff . Celebration of Frigga and the home
1st weekend . Disting . Celebration of Freya and the Disir (Trad.
1st weekend . Founding of the World. Celebration of Odin, Vili, and
3/21 . Summer Finding - Celebration of the Goddess Ostara. Also a
celebration of the Raven Kindred.s founding, Spring Equinox 1991.
1st weekend . Alfarblot. Sacrifice to the elves and nature spirits
(traditionally celebrated as part of Disting)
1st weekend . May Day/Walpurgis. Celebration of spring which we
dedicate to Njord and Nerthus. (Trad. 5/1)
1st weekend . Festival of Mead dedicated to Aegir and also to Bygvir
3/21 Summer Solstice . Dedicated to Sunna, Goddess of the Sun
1st weekend . Blot in honor of Baldr*
1st weekend . Freyfaxi, first harvest and celebration of Frey and his
horse (Trad. 8/1)
1st weekend . Discovery of the Runes, celebration of Odin as the God
of Wisdom (Odinic Rite holiday celebrated 8/25)
9/21 Winter Finding . Disirblot (Disirblot traditionally 10/13-10/15)
1st weekend . Tyrblot, celebration of Justice and Honor. (Supreme
Court session begins 1st Monday in October)*
1st weekend . Einjerhar, celebration of war-dead and Ragnarok
Dedicated to Odin and Freya (Trad. 11/11 . Armistice Day)
1st weekend . Winterblot, dedicated to Skadi and/or Ullr*
12/21 . Yule, multiday festival dedicated to Thor et al (Traditionally
a festival lasting from the Mother Night 12/21 to New Years Day)
The Bylaws of The Raven Kindred of Asatru
The Raven Kindred of Asatru is an unincorporated non-profit religious
association dedicated to the worship of the Old Norse and Germanic
Gods and the practice of the ancestral religion of Asatru.
A. Associate Membership in the Raven Kindred is open to all
practitioners of Asatru. No benefits are implied or guaranteed by
B. Full Membership (aka Voting Membership) is obtained by a
majority vote of the current full members then present. Each member
may vote yes, no, or to table the motion for 3 months. Candidates for
Full Membership shall have fulfilled the following qualifications
before being considered: 1) The candidate must have pledged troth to
the Aesir and Vanir. 2) The candidate must be willing to place
priority on his loyalties to Asatru and the Raven Kindred over other
spiritual commitments. 3) The Candidate must be willing to swear an
oath of membership to the Raven Kindred.
C. Membership of any type will not be denied on the basis of
race, sex, or sexual preference.
D. Full or Associate Membership may be revoked by a vote of two
thirds of the Full Members then present.
E. Membership in the Raven Kindred of Asatru, either Associate or
Full, may be resigned by serving verbal notice at any function of the
Kindred or by written notice.
A. Governance shall be by majority vote. Each Full Member shall
have one vote. Only Full Members shall vote, but any interested
parties shall be given reasonable access to address the Kindred. Full
Members may hold proxy for other Full Members.
B. Such officers as needed shall be appointed for whatever terms
and functions the Kindred deems necessary.
C. Meetings, during which the Kindred may conduct business, may
be scheduled by the Kindred as needed, but the Kindred shall meet not
less than once every six months. Any time that 50% of the Kindred.s
Full Members are met together, either physically or through other
interactive means, a meeting may be declared for the purpose of
Subject to the restrictions in section V, the Raven Kindred of Asatru
shall seek out alliances with other groups of similar nature and
purpose for the betterment of our faith as a whole.
The Raven Kindred of Asatru shall not sign any treaty or affiliate
with any group that would deny its independence as an entity or
control its internal affairs. In any alliances, affiliations, or
treaties, these By-Laws shall have precedence over any other
instruments signed by the Kindred.
These by-laws may be amended by a vote of 2/3 of all Full Members.
Any proposed amendments must be circulated to all Full Members in
writing 30 days before such amendments may be voted on.
Sources and Resources for Asatru
Please note: This resource list is provided as is and is intended to
be comprehensive. The Raven Kindred doesn.t necessarily endorse any of
the following organizations, publications, etc.
The Ring of Troth P.O. Box 25637; Tempe, AZ 85285-5637 The Ring of
Troth was founded by Edred Thorsson. He resigned in Spring of 2242
(Runic Reckoning . 1992 C.E.) and has been replaced by Prudence
Priest, most well known as the editor of Yggdrasil.
The Ring is governed by an appointed High Rede of 9 persons who guide
the national affairs of the Ring. They offer a number of programs
include an Elder training program for prospective clergy, The Rune
Ring for study of the magical properties of the Runes from within a
Germanic Pagan context, and recognition for local Kindreds.
The Ring of Troth requires that .its members affiliate for cultural
and religious reasons rather than for racial and political reasons.
The use of the Ring of Troth as a platform for any type of political
or racial propoganda will not be tolerated.
The Troth provides a quarterly magazine and a networking list. There
are also regional gatherings put on by individual Kindreds. Work is
currently underway on a book of rituals.
Dues are $24 and include a subscription to Idunna. If one does not
wish to join, Friends of the Troth may receive Idunna for $24 as well.
The Asatru Alliance of Independent Kindreds P.O. Box 961; Payson AZ
The Alliance is the linear descendent of the Asatru Free Assembly.
They are a democratically run national confederation of independent
kindreds who meet once a year in an Allthing to conduct business. It
is essentially conservative and libertarian. .The Alliance is based
upon the ancient model of tribal democracy known as the Thing, and
member kindreds support a code of laws we feel necessary to preserve
and protect Asatru from those who would dilute, subvert, or in any way
harm our religion. Membership in the Alliance is encouraged for those
who actively promote and believe in the Aesir and Vanir and our
collective Heathen Heritage. Anyone interested in joining the Alliance
should contact the kindred of choice for acceptance. There is no
membership in the Alliance except through a kindred. Applicants must
subscribe to the membership requirements of the kindred of choice and
uphold the bylaws of the Asatru Alliance.. This group has recently
adopted a declaration stating that Asatru is an ethnic religion, so
membership now seems to be limited on the basis of race.
The Odinic Rite BM Edda; London, WCN 3XX
The Odinic Rite BM Runic: London WCN 3XX
These two organizations are each claiming to be the .true. Odinic
Rite. The BM Runic address is the older one, but the BM Edda address
seems to be producing more publications. I.d suggest writing to both
and figuring it out on your own. The Odinic Rite is an organization
for the revival of Odinism in England. If one sends a few postal reply
coupons I believe each will send you information. Both publish
Eagles Reaches P.O. Box 382; Deer Park TX 77536-0382
Eagles Reaches is now doing national organizing and correspondence
The Raven Kindred 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175; Wheaton MD 20902
The Raven Kindred offers correspondence connections, regional
coordination, booklets and pamphlets. They also operate the Wyrd
Network, a correspondence network for Wiccans to discuss the
compability with and conversion to Asatru.
Vor Tru . $12/year. The Journal of the Asatru Alliance (see above
address). Concentrates on community issues within the Alliance, news
of kindreds, letters, etc. Sometimes contains racist material.
Idunna . $24/year. The journal of the Ring of Troth. Idunna
concentrates on fairly heavy academic subjects, runelore, translations
etc within a religious framework.
Mountain Thunder . $18/year, 1630 30th St #266; Boulder CO 80301.
Glossy covered and well put together. Usually excellent articles on
relgious issues of Heathenry, scholarly stuff, reviews, and opinion.
Has devoted a lot of commentary to the Asatru community and where it.s
Uncle Thorr.s Newsletter . $12/year, P.O. Box 080437; Staten Island NY
10308-0005. Simple newsletter with ranting and raving from Uncle Thorr
and company, news from NY, and articles on lifestyle, runes, and other
Ask & Embla . $12/year; P.O. Box 271; Carrollton OH 44615. Small
amateur production with commentary on Asatru and nothern lore.
Raven.s Cry . Write for rates & sample; 11160 Veirs Mill Rd L15-175;
Wheaton MD 20902. Small iregular kindred newsletter
Wyrd Network Newsletter . Write for rates & sample; 11160 Veirs Mill
Rd L15-175; Wheaton MD 20902. Newsletter/letter exchange for Wiccans
interested in Asatru.
The Runestone . $10/year; P.O. Box 445; Nevada City CA 95959.
Published by Stephen McNallen & Maddy Hutter, this is the
reincarnation of the AFA.s seminal journal on Asatru. Interesting
commentary, interested in heroic viking past.
On Wings of Eagles .$25/year; Eagles Reaches; P.O. Box 382; Deer Park,
Odinism Today . .8.50 (overseas) BM Edda; London; WC1N 3XX;
England/United Kingdom. A nice little quarterly with articles on
mythology, reviews, etc.
ORBriefing . $20 (overseas) BM Runic; London; WC1N 3XX; England/UK. A
small newsletter of happenings and opinion.
American Church of Teutonic Life; 107 Court St, Suite 131; Watertown
NY 13601 Arizona Kindred; P.O. Box 961; Payson AZ 85547 (Asatru
Alliance) Asatru Fellowship; P.O. Box 271; Carrollton OH 44615 Asatru
Fellowship; 858 W Armitage Ste. 139; Chicago, IL 60614 Barnstokker
Hearth; P.O. Box 1972; Seattle WA 98111-1972 Bond of the Grae Wolf;
119 Waipapa Rd; Hataitai; Wellington 3, New Zealand Crow.s Nest
Kindred; P.O. Box 3392; Galveston, TX 77552 Eagle Kindred; P.O. Box
1942; McCall, ID 83638 Eagles Reaches; P.O. Box 382; Deer Park TX
77536 (Ring of Troth) Freya.s Folk; 537 Jones St #165; San Francisco,
CA 94102 Gering Hall; 720 Huntington St; Watertown, NY 13601 Hammer
Oak Kindred; 2626 35th Ave; Oakland, CA 94619 Hammerstead Kindred;
P.O. Box 22379; Lexington, KY 40522-2379 Helga Ve Kindred; P.O Box
531; Bouse, AZ 85325 Heritage and Tradition; CP 244, Succ. P.A.T.;
Montreal Quevec, H1B 5K3 Canada Hlidhskjalf Kindred; 1513 Thurlow St;
Orleans, Ontario K4A-1D8; Canada Hrafnaheimr; 7162 Melrose Ave; Los
Angeles, CA 90046 Irmunsul Hearth; P.O. Box 18812; Auston, TX 78760
(Ring of Troth) Midgard Kindred; P.O. Box 4071; Toledo, OH 43609
Mountain Moot; P.O. Box 328; Elizabeth CO 80107 Nerthus Heart; 27 Gap
Rd; Black Hawk CO 80422 Niumd Baqra Kindred; P.O. Box 4371; Sunland,
CA 91041 North Carolina Kindred; Rt 3 Box 113; Laqwndale, NC 28090
Northern California Kindred; P.O. Box 445; Nevada City CA 95959 N.
Ancestral Runic Fellowship; P.O. Box 199045; Indianapolis, IN 46219
Norvegr Kindred; 219 Lewis St; Wash Court House OH 43160 Ocean
Kindred; P.O. Box 09007; Staten Island, NY 10309 Raven Kindred North;
P.O. Box 1137; Sturbridge MA 01566 Raven Kindred South; 11160 Veirs
Mill Rd L15-175; Wheaton, MD 20902 Saehrimner Kindred; 1861 County Rd
1114; Cullman, AL 35055 Skelland Kindred; P.O. Box 7608; Clearwater FL
34618 Thorr.s Hammer Kindred; 9461 Bella Vista Rd; Apple Valley CA
92308 Torwald Kindred; 1630 30th St #266; Boulder CO 80301 Ullsbekk
Kindred; P.O. Box 1156; Denver, CO 80201 Vinland Kindred; P.O. Box
15431 PSS; Stamford CT 06901 (Asatru Alliance) Vlissinger Hearth; 3016
154th St; Flushing, NY 11354 Wotan Kindred; 8117 NE 32nd St;
Vancouver, WA 948662 Wulfing Kindred; P.O. Box 18237; Chicago IL 60618
(Asatru Alliance) Yggdrasil Kindred; 1709 West Midvale Village Dr;
Tucson AZ 85476
The Poetic Edda, Lee Hollander translation (basic mythology in an
excellently translated poetic version.)
The Prose Edda, Jean Young translation (basic mythology)
The Norse Myths, Kevin Crossley Holland (basic mythology in modern
language and retelling, excellent for readings or meditation)
A Book of Troth by Edred Thorsson (Not my favorite author and not a
book without many imperfections, but the only mass market book of the
basic rituals of Asatru)
Teutonic Religion by Kveldulfr Gundarsson (basic text on modern
Germanic Paganism. I also recommend his book on runes Teutonic Magic.)
The Raven Kindred Ritual Book (basic text on Asatru ritual and
beliefs, $5 from the Raven Kindred South, checks made out to Lewis
Stead, available for free download from online services or the
Moonrise BBS at (301).5939609 or by e-mail from
The AFA Rituals, three volumes available from World Tree Books ($18
from World Tree) The original ritual volumes from the Asatru Free
Introduction to Ritual and Invocation Tape ($7 from World Tree Books)
A basic cassette tape that goes through a ritual step by step, the
other side is a variety of invocations and prayers.
The last two are from World Tree Publications; P.O. Box 961; Payson AZ
85547 (checks payable to the O.F. of Arizona). World Tree is a service
of the Asatru Alliance and carries a number of tapes and booklets as
well as Thor.s Hammers and statuary.
Computer Network Resources:
There is a Runes & Asatru conference on the Pagan/Occult Distribution
System (PODSnet). This network has nodes around the world and BBSes
drop in and out of the network. The following are long term stable
boards: The Mountain Oracle, Colorado: 719-380-7886, Baphonet, New
York: 718-499-0513, Mysteria, California: 818-353-8891, Sacred Grove,
Washington State: 206-634-1980, Moonrise, Maryland/DC: 301-593-9609,
Pandora.s Box, Ottawa Canada: 613-829-1209, PODS, Sydney Australia:
61-2-833-1848, PODS Melbourne Australia: 61-3-796-2180
The Troth Line is an internet mailing list for Asatru and The Ring of
Troth. For subscription information send an E-Mail message to
email@example.com. The list itself is at
firstname.lastname@example.org. The internet is accessable through America
Online, CompuServe, Delphi, and tens of thousands of other locations.
Please send additions and corrections to Lewis Stead; 11160 Veirs Mill
Rd L15-175; Wheaton MD 20902 or through e-mail to
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